Latest Zoo News

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Click on any of the headlines below to learn more about today's hot topics:​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

​​​• ​​​​​Animals and All ​That Jazz Celebrates 30 Years​

One of the Zoo's longest-running events and a fan favorite for jazz enthusiasts, the wildly popular Animals and All that Jazz is back and celebrating 30 years!
Our summertime tradition returns for five nights of smooth sounds, now in our brand new Bicentennial Pavilion. Watch the sunset from this shaded oasis as you relax and enjoy our delicious themed dinner and live entertainment. The 2017 season will showcase a range of distinctive artists, from longtime favorites to acts new to the Zoo stage, and each concert will feature a different menu of specialty food options and samples of craft beer.  
On top of all that, our nearby animal exhibits will be open until 7pm, giving your whole animal pack an opportunity to enjoy a full day at the Zoo along with the evening performance.​
Animals and All That Jazz concerts are free to Zoo members and included with regular admission. Guests can purchase discount tickets at Indiana Members Credit Union locations and enjoy the full day at the Zoo. Advance tickets are also available at IndianapolisZoo.com. Celebrate summer with a relaxing night of smooth jazz and fun for the whole family! [close] 

​​​• ​​​​Search for Zoo Clues for a Chance to Win a Behind-The-Scenes Tour

Add some extra fun and adventure to your next Zoo visit with Zoo Clues! For the third year, we are partnering with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health to bring your family a new challenge as part of the Change the Play program, which  encourages kids to make healthier choices about nutrition and exercise. Zoo Clues is just one of many activities that can be done in Indiana throughout this challenge.

Now through Labor Day, Zoo​ Clues will take you and your family on a scavenger hunt throughout the Zoo. Pick up a map inside the main Zoo gate (near the ramp leading to Oceans) and let it be your guide to solving all 10 riddles. You'll explore many areas of the Zoo, from the depths of our Oceans to the heat of our Deserts!

Plus, make sure you write down answers as you go as guests who complete the Zoo Clues challenge can also enter for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes tour of the Zoo with this Change the Play activity. Entries are due by Sept. 4. See you soon, detectives!​ [close]

​​​• ​​Orangutans Kim and Max Continue Making Improvements

The newest arrivals to our Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center are improving steadily and enjoying their new home. Kim, a 39-year-old orangutan, and her baby Max moved here last fall from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. At the time, Kim was very overweight and 9-month-old Max was showing signs of slow development. Indianapolis was selected to provide a new home for mom and baby based on the strength of our state-of-the-art facilities, expert veterinary staff, skilled ape caretakers and management philosophy.

Since they first arrived, Kim and Max have made incredible progress. After spending some time behind the scenes to meet some of our other orangutans and adjust to their new environment, the mother-son duo recently began exploring the Center's public spaces for the first time. Our dynamic habitat was designed to stimulate orangutans' natural abilities, with lots of cables, fire hoses, ladders and other features to encourage climbing. By taking advantage of the additional room and vertical space, Kim is steadily losing weight and her mobility has also increased drastically. Max is also showing significant improvement. Our keepers say he's brighter, more playful and more energetic.  

In the coming weeks, Kim and Max will continue to explore their new home. Come meet them and the other orangutans at the Center.  [close]​

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While summer has only just begun, the school year will be here before you know it. That means back-to-school shopping will also start soon. Unfortunately, for some Central Indiana families, buying school supplies can be a challenge. That's why we're proud to collaborate with the Indiana Members Foundation to support Indy BackPack Attack again this year. ​

Each summer, the Zoo as well as other businesses and organizations in Central Indiana gather school supply donations to benefit underprivileged students attending IPS schools. Beginning with the kickoff event on June 19 and continuing through July 18, Zoo guests can bring items to the Zoo's Front Gate. When you donate an item, you'll receive a coupon for $2 off admission.

The goal this year is to collect more than 500,000 items. Thanks for helping students in need in our community! [close]

​​• ​Dynamic Magnificent Macaws Presentation Takes Flight

Cascades of color fill the skies with the Zoo's new bird presentation, Magnificent Macaws presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

Flocks of big, brightly colored birds fly from destinations across the Zoo — in open air above guests — to the new Bicentennial Pavilion for daily programs ​that are unlike anything visitors have seen before in the Midwest.

More than 50 macaws in all make multiple, scheduled flights each day from aviaries located throughout the Zoo, including a new exhibit in Forests. During the longest flights, the parrots travel nearly a half-mile, creating a living rainbow overhead and allowing visitors around the Zoo to see the birds' aerial artistry in action.​​

Guests gathered around The Perch inside the Pavilion experience dynamic presentations that highlight the wonders of flight. Magnificent Macaws features seven different species of parrots, including blue-throated macaw, scarlet macaw, great green macaw, blue-and-gold macaw, military macaw, green-winged macaw and hyacinth macaw. Each presentation also includes one of three other species — red-tailed hawk, toco toucan or trumpeter hornbill — to showcase unique flight variations and provide opportunities for audience participation. 

Magnificent Macaws, which will continue through Sept. 13 this year and return in spring 2018, as well as the macaws’ permanent aviary in Forests offer opportunities for guests to learn about the conservation challenges facing these vibrant yet threatened birds.

Roughly one-third of the world's native macaws are endangered due mainly to habitat destruction in the rainforests of Central and South America. Additionally, while strict import regulations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protect these and other exotic species, macaws are still vulnerable to the illegal pet trade internationally. To help protect macaws in the wild, the Zoo proudly supports the efforts of the Ara Project and the World Parrot Trust.

Magnificent Macaws is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. ​[close]​

​​• ​New Brown Bear Cubs Arrive in Forests​

If you do a double take while wandering past our brown bear habitat, you're not imagining things. You may see two bear cubs wrestling, splashing around in the water or playing with some logs. We are the temporary home to two cubs who are destined for the Great Plains Zoo in South Dakota, which is building a new brown bear exhibit.

These females named Sitka and Juneau are nearly 2 ½ years old. Discovered by Yellowstone National Park rangers 19 months ago, the orphaned cubs were malnourished at half the weight they should have been, and it was determined they could not be released back into the wild. The Palm Beach Zoo has housed and cared for them over the last year.

While the bears are here at the Indianapolis Zoo, you'll see Juneau and Sitka outdoors sometimes and other times you'll see our adult bear, Kiak and Mikal. But we don't have plans to introduce them together. The cubs will be here at the Indianapolis Zoo through the summer and early fall before they are moved to their new home in South Dakota. [close]

• ​Indianapolis Zoo and St. Vincent Health Announce New Partnership​

The Indianapolis Zoo is pleased to announce a new 10-year relationship with St. Vincent Health as the naming partner for both the St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion and the St. Vincent Dolphin Gallery.

"This new collaboration combines the strength of two non-profit organizations dedicated to the health of the world – both human and wildlife" said Zoo President and CEO Michael Crowther.  "We have expanded on what was already a strong partnership between two leading organizations in our community."

The new commitment will help engage, enlighten, and empower Zoo guests about personal responsibility and action, and the role each person plays in ensuring a healthier world for all.

​St. Vincent already supports the Zoo's playground and Christmas at the Zoo's LED Energy efficient lights, both of which are presented by Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent. Zookeepers, Zoo Educators and dolphin Trainers also visit Peyton Manning's Children's Hospital at St. Vincent to spend time with the patients and teach them about wildlife and conservation.  [close]​

​​• ​Ring-Tailed Lemur Troop Welcomes Twins

Our ring-tailed lemur troop just grew — by two! Mom Bree gave birth to twin boys on April 2. We stuck with the Celtic/Gaelic theme with names. The baby with red hair and orange eyes is named Rooney, which literally means “red-haired.” The baby with gray hair and yellow eyes is named Quigley, which means “the maternal side.” Quigley's name is pretty fitting since he is most often seen riding on Bree's back and is also a bit more shy and hesitant to go off on his own.An experienced mom, Bree takes a relaxed but attentive approach to her newborns. Guests might see these adorable new arrivals holding tight to mom's fur or leaving Bree's side to explore on their own. They are growing fast, and Rooney already weighs over 1 pound!

With the recent warm weather, Bree and the babies have been outside with the rest of the Zoo's troop, which now includes seven members. The Zoo's other lemurs, including dad Finnegan, are adjusting well and have been welcoming to the new babies.

Native to the island of Madagascar, these endangered animals live in large, highly social groups led by a dominant female. Following a pregnancy that lasts around 20 weeks, females typically give birth to a single infant, though twins will happen occasionally. Although males often leave the troop once they reach maturity, females typically remain in the same family group throughout their lifetime. In fact, Teagan, Bree's daughter born in 2013, is still part of the Zoo's troop and is regularly grooming Bree and her new babies.

Thanks to Hendricks Regional Health for presenting Zoo Babies.​

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•​ Indianapolis Zoo Awards Grants for Global Conservation

As the world's wildlife faces ever-increasing peril, the Indianapolis Zoo has elevated its commitment to conservation efforts across the globe. Through a grant program and initiatives on grounds, the Zoo is dedicated to partnerships with researchers and organizations protecting animals in crisis.

Zoo support for projects fund equipment, research and increase awareness, changing hearts and minds of the Indianapolis community and those far beyond.

"The advancement of wildlife conservation is our mission, and building long-term partnerships with conservation organizations that have proven successful allows us to maximize the resources entrusted to us by our supporters and generated by our operations," said Mike Crowther, Zoo President and CEO. "We are committed to sharing our strength with those working locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally to save species."

Over the years, animals from the savanna to the sea have benefitted from the Zoo's involvement in these initiatives, including elephants, tigers, macaws and many more. 2017 funding recipients include some of the Zoo's long-standing conservation partners as well as several organizations and projects that are new to the Zoo. Learn about all the projects and how you can meet some of the incredible men and women making a difference. [close]

•​ Look at her Grow! Mila's Making Milestones​

Sumatran orangutan Mila — the first great ape ever born at the Indianapolis Zoo — just celebrated her first birthday in March and since then, she continues to grow more and more every day. The celebration was decked out with festive enrichment and a giant birthday card for guests to sign and share personal messages.

At 1-year-old, Mila is an active youngster and can be seen climbing and exploring throughout the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center Atrium under the watchful eye of Sirih and "aunties" Knobi and Nicky. So far she isn't picky when it comes to her diet. Always sneaking the biggest piece of food she can get away from mom, Mila especially loves her fruit.

Orangutan mothers spend seven to 10 years actively bringing up a baby. Sirih will model what life as an orangutan looks like for her daughter, as the youngster learns to climb, build nests and interact with surroundings including the other apes, Keepers and Zoo visitors.

Mila is the second offspring for Sirih, who had a daughter in 2003 while she lived at the Frankfurt Zoo in Germany. Recommended as a pair through the AZA's SSP program, both mother and first time father, 14-year-old Basan, are Sumatran orangutans, a species listed as a critically endangered by the IUCN, with only about 6,500 left in the wild. [close]

•​ Butterfly Kaleidoscope Returns to White River Gardens​

Surround yourself with swirls of living color as Butterfly Kaleidoscope presented by Citizens Energy Group returns to the Hilbert Conservatory after a one-year hiatus. We've transformed the indoor gardens into a tropical paradise to bring you more than 40 butterflies in an extraordinary way! This one-of-a-kind exhibit is now open and continues through Sept. 10.​

As you walk through the warm, aromatic indoor garden, more than 40 species of butterflies will flit nearby — and one might even land on you! Each day, newly emerged butterflies, like the blue morpho, zebra longwing and giant owl butterflies, will be released from the Emergence Chamber near the center of the Conservatory. Come to one of our scheduled releases and watch them take their first flight!

Butterfly Kaleidoscope is free for Zoo members and included with regular Zoo admission. You can purchase your tickets online in advance to save money. Discover all the beauty of critters big and small![close]​

​​​•​ New Feathered Friend Joins our Plains Flock

A new feathered friend has arrived in our Plains area! Rudy is a common ostrich, hatched in 2015 in Tennessee. He came to us from the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend and will be 2 years old in March.

Ostriches are the biggest of all birds, growing up to 9 feet tall and weighing as much as 320 pounds! Although Rudy is a bit undersized for a male ostrich, he is very healthy and doing well. Though these large, powerful birds don't fly, they can still move — running at speeds up to 40 mph for short distances.

Native to the savannas and woodlands of Africa, ostriches eat a mixture of plants and seeds as well as insects and even small reptiles.

The Zoo has had ostriches off and on dating back to August 1979. Although these birds haven't been a part of our Plains family for about four years, with Rudy's arrival, guests will again be able to enjoy the species in the spring and on warmer days this winter. [close]

•​ Rocky's Vocalizations Gain Worldwide Attention​​​

Groundbreaking data from the Indianapolis Zoo's Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center gives clues to the evolution of human speech. 11-year-old Rocky revealed a previously unknown level of vocal learning for orangutans.​​

The research, conducted at the Zoo in 2012 by scientist Dr. Adriano Lameira, was published today in Scientific Reports, and provides key insight to understanding how speech in humans evolved from the time of ancestral great apes.

The results showed that Rocky not only learned new sounds, but controlled the action of his voice in a "conversational" context as he took turns exchanging utterances with a social partner. In an imitation "do-as-I-do" game, Rocky copied the pitch and tone of sounds made by researchers to make vowel-like calls. Prior to this research, many researchers still presumed that great apes' sounds were driven only by reflex.

England's Durham University's Dr. Lameira, the lead author on the research, analyzed Rocky's ability to exert fine and precise vocal control, giving the orangutan a unique capacity to learn new vocalizations — a historic first. Dr. Rob Shumaker, the Indianapolis Zoo's Director, is a co-author on the publication.

"This important work fundamentally alters our understanding of the capabilities of orangutans. It also reveals the significant value of carefully conducted studies with apes living in highly enriched, behaviorally naturalistic zoos," said Shumaker. "Research that expands our awareness of orangutan intelligence inevitably leads to a greater commitment for their conservation in the wild."

Want to learn more? Check out our blog. [close]​​

•​ New Presentation Highlight Connection to Dolphins in the Gulf

As a global conservation organization, the Zoo often reaches beyond the borders of Indiana to preserve a future for wild things and wild places. And beginning this summer, Zoo guests will learn how they, too, can help animals and an ecosystem hundreds of miles away.​​

The Indianapolis Zoo and The Nature Conservancy, both known for leadership in protecting wildlife globally, are partnering to increase awareness for conservation efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, which has lost huge portions of its wetlands, sea grass beds and oyster reefs. When guests come to the Zoo's Dolphin Pavilion to connect with our Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, they will also learn about the role Indiana plays in ensuring a healthy Gulf and be empowered to help make a difference for dolphins.

Dolphins living in the Gulf face many threats, including oil spills and pollutants. Living upstream, Hoosiers have a lasting impact on the health of the Gulf and the dolphins that make it their home. Indiana's Wabash River contributes 11 percent of the nutrients that create dead zones in the Gulf, leaving large areas where marine life cannot live, thrive or eat.

To help highlight the connection, the Zoo and TNC have worked together during the last year to bring the story back to Indiana with new Zoo programs and an incredible new dolphin presentation. With images filmed on location in the Gulf and displayed through an enhanced video-and-sound experience, we'll take guests on a trip through Indiana and down to the Gulf to meet people committed to making a difference for dolphins hundreds of miles away from Midwest.

Come celebrate the world we share together and see how the blue thread of water connects us all.
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