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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Indianapolis Zoo

June 1, 2018

Effie and Cale

Indianapolis Zoo

The day after the Indianapolis 500 is always something of a downer for me personally, the end of a month of anticipation and excitement and suddenly it is all over. This year was a little different as not only did Kathy and I get to attend the annual winner’s photoshoot at the Speedway, but we still had a couple of guests in town to entertain, so we decided to do something fun before they had to depart later in the afternoon.

Tom, Greta and Caitlin were all departed already by the time we arrived downtown to pick up Cale and Effie. The early morning departures meant we did not see those guys at all, but left us with a day to spend with Cale and Effie, who smartly booked an early evening return, giving them some extra time to hang out.

We decided to spend the afternoon at the Indianapolis Zoo in White River State Park. The park is located along the banks of the White River right in downtown Indianapolis. The Zoo is located in the park along with the Botanical Gardens and White River Gardens. In 1996, the Indianapolis Zoo became the first institution to be triple accredited as a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden.

The current zoo opened in 1988, it was built because the zoo had outgrown its former location at George Washington Park on East 30th Street. The old zoo was a small, intimate venue that first opened in 1964 and was a place that our family visited frequently as I was growing up. There are still many old family photos of us visiting the old zoo, a place that I continued to visit up until it closed in 1987.


The zoo originally featured an Asian elephant, penguins, kangaroos, foxes, raccoons, camels, bison, deer, lambs, tortoises, llamas, prairie dogs, pygmy goats, and buffalo exhibits. In 1965, the zoo became one of few in the country to employ a full-time education staff. By the 20th anniversary of the zoo, its animal collection had doubled in size and it was determined that the zoo needed a new location where it could continue to expand.

That location was in what was then the new White River State Park and the new zoo was constructed meeting all of the best practices for zoos including a state of the art aquarium in the waters building and a huge education and conservation building. The zoo sits on 64 acres of the park, and currently hosts about a million visitors a year. There are about 3800 animals currently residing at the zoo and it is consistently rated as one of the city’s top attractions.


The Indianapolis Zoo is organized around the concept of biomes. Biomes are areas of the planet with similar climate, plants, and animals. Animals at the Indianapolis Zoo are clustered in groups with similar habitats, which define the biomes. The represented biomes include Oceans, Forests, Marine Mammals, Plains and Desert. Each of the biomes participates in conservation and breeding programs.

It was another hot day in Indianapolis, but many of the animals were out and active. The brand new long-tailed Macaques exhibit literally just opened a day earlier and was fairly impressive but the centerpiece of the zoo is the massive Orangutan conservation exhibit, the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. This award-winning facility has been called one of the most significant zoo exhibits in the world. It is truly magnificent.

  Kathy, Effie and Cale


The Center is a Hub for Research of Cognitive Abilities for Great Apes. Designed to stimulate the apes' physical, social and intellectual abilities, the center is home to one of the largest groups of orangutans in any American zoo. It serves as a vital education, research and conservation center aimed at ensuring a positive future for critically endangered orangutans in the wild. It features massive towers, connected by ropes that the apes can use to traverse the zoo landscape far overhead. It is really cool.


After the zoo and a quick visit to the butterfly display at the botanical garden, we headed back downtown to grab a late lunch at Harry and Izzy’s the sister restaurant to the famous St. Elmo’s Steakhouse where we could all experience the world famous shrimp cocktails as well as Three Floyd’s Brewing’s Zombie Dust on tap before heading to the airport so that Effie and Cale could head home.


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