Latest Zoo News

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

•​ Race for the Cure, NFL Draft, Autism Awareness Day Happening Saturday

It's going to be a wild weekend for activities in and around the Indianapolis Zoo!

First, be on the lookout for a pink stampede as thousands of runners and walkers take part in the annual Komen Central Indiana Race for the Cure on Saturday, April 29. The 5K course will take participants along Washington Street directly in front of the Zoo, and the westbound lane of Washington Street is expected to be closed beginning at 8:30am. Zoo guests are encouraged to approach from the southwest from Harding Street. Once the race begins, vehicles will be allowed to enter the Zoo when there are breaks in the stream of participants. However, visitors should expect traffic delays until about 10:30am.

Additionally, the Zoo is proud to partner with Damar Services to host their Autism Awareness Day event from 9am-5pm on Saturday. Picture menus will be available at concession areas and quiet spaces will be provided for individuals who may become overwhelmed. Guests can visit the booth by the White River Junction Train to speak to autism experts, learn about handy communications apps to assist individuals with autism, enjoy giveaways and receive a ticket for a free train ride (while supplies last). Damar will also have a recruiter on hand all day to discuss employment opportunities for current positions.

We're also teaming up with the Indianapolis Colts to bring you an extraordinary NFL Draft Day Party​ from noon-4pm on Saturday. The Zoo's orangutans will assist the Colts in announcing their fourth- and fifth-round draft picks from the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center! Utilizing one of our touch screens, the orangutans will reveal the name of the newest Colts players live on the NFL Network, NFL Now and Colts Defensive Ends Hassan Ridgeway and Henry Anderson will also participate in the announcements. You can have fun with Mascot Blue, register for giveaways and meet the cheerleaders.

NFL Draft Day Party and Autism Awareness Day acvitivies are included with Zoo admission and free for Zoo members. You can save on your visit by planning ahead and purchasing advance tickets online! [close]

​• Ring-Tailed Lemur Troop Welcomes Twins

Our ring-tailed lemur troop just grew — by two! Mom Bree gave birth to twins on April 2, and while the gender of the babies is not yet known, they are nursing well and growing. 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 riding on her back. Within a few weeks, the youngsters will begin leaving Bree's side to explore on their own.

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 has regularly grooming Bree and her new babies.

Thanks to Hendricks Regional Health for presenting Zoo Babies. [close]

•​ Magnificent Macaws Prepare for Landing

The skies will be filled with cascades of color when Magnificent Macaws take off starting May 27. Flocks of these big, brightly colored birds will fly from destinations across the Zoo — in open air above the heads of our guests — to our new Bicentennial Pavilion for daily public presentations. It will be unlike anything else you've ever seen!

Seven species of macaws will be featured, including the blue-throated macaw, scarlet macaw, great green macaw, blue-and-gold macaw, military macaw, green-winged macaw and hyacinth macaw. You can watch their in-air artistry in action multiple times each day during the unique interactions, then see them up close at the new permanent exhibit located in Forests between the Alaskan brown bears and Amur tigers.

As these birds prepare for their presentation debut, they'll go through "spring training". First training by flying a short distance, the macaws will then move on to a longer range, ultimately landing in the Pavilion. The birds will enjoy a variety of delicious fruits, nuts and seeds, and the menu will change each day to entice the macaws to make their round-trip flights.

While the macaws are soaring back and forth across the Zoo, these highly intelligent and social birds will be in constant communication with loud squawks, croaks and screams.

As guests experience the wonders of flight during the Magnificent Macaws presentations, they'll also learn more about how to support bird conservation, from the feathered friends in our own backyards to the forests of Central and South America.

Magnificent Macaw presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers is included with regular Zoo admission. Zoo Members will enjoy free admission plus special preview days of the new exhibit and presentations on May 25-26. It's going to be a soaring summer with these Magnificent Macaws! [close]

•​ 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]​

•​​ Toad-ally Unique Animals Join our Deserts Family

New bumpy, green amphibians have arrived in our Deserts Dome! Two Colorado River toads, also known as a Sonoran Desert toads, recently came to us from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and are the Zoo's first amphibian species since 2013, so we're excited to have these cold-blooded vertebrates back! ​

North America's largest native species of toad, these desert dwellers are native to the southwest United States and northern Mexico, and they often beat the heat by living and hiding near streams, springs, canals and ditches. These carnivorous critters will eat insects, lizards and other smaller amphibians, but they can also become prey for some birds and mammals, including raccoons and skunks. So if the toad feels threatened, it will secrete a toxin that can be deadly to small animals and pets. However, they're typically not harmful to humans.

Now in their new home on the right side next to the Meerkat exhibit, you may need to look closely to find our newcomers — they often rest under the shade inside the pipe! The Deserts Dome is open year-round so guests are always welcome to stop in to meet these amazing amphibians! [clo​​​​se]

•​ ​Get Wild About Learning with Zoo Education Programs​

Guests of all ages can discover a love of wild world with the Indianapolis Zoo's education programs! ​

The Zoo offers both three-day and five-day summer Zoo Camps for children ages 5-14, so the possibilities are endless. Not only do children get to experience remarkable animal presentations, but they'll also be able to create craft projects and enjoy behind-the-scenes tours of the Zoo and White River Gardens. Summer camps allow kids to dive deeper into fun animal-related topics and understand different aspects of Zoo animals and conservation. Younger children can learn about basic animal features, like animal environments, protection strategies and eating habits, while older children will learn how to save endangered species and how to study the ecosystem, plus much more!

For those just starting to discover a love of the natural world around us, our Saturday Science Programs​ are perfect for kids to investigate the animal kingdom and practice the scientific method. Three hours of knowledge, three hours of excitement and a lifetime of memories!

The Zoo provides family fun as well, like an overnight adventure! Twice a year, the Zoo invites families to spend the night and participate in a variety of games, crafts, animal stories and an after-hours special Zoo tour. Don't forget your sleeping bags!

There are so many education programs to decide from, so if you can't just pick one, choose two or three! Plus, use your Zoo Membership to receive discounts on many of our programs. [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]

•​ A New Home for Mom and Baby

Just before the fall season moved in, the Zoo's orangutan population grew by two. Kim, a 38-year-old orangutan and her baby Max moved to the Indianapolis Zoo from the Jackson Zoo in Mississippi. At 9-months-old, Max was showing signs of slow development and Indianapolis was selected to provide a new home for mom and baby. The decision was based on the strength of the Zoo's state-of-the-art facilities, expert veterinary staff, skilled ape caretakers, and management philosophy.

Since arriving, Kim and Max have lived in the former orangutan facility with indoor and outdoor access. Kim was overweight when she arrived and has steadily lost weight over the last 10 weeks and her mobility has increased drastically. The vet staff has also worked diligently to care for Max and he is responding well with a marked increase in his appetite, activity and coordination. Everyone is very pleased with his progress.Soon, the two will move into the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center. You probably won't see them right away. What will happen first are some behind-the-scenes introductions to other orangutans like Knobi, who is known for her ability to jump in as an Auntie and help care for a baby, like 8-month-old orangutan Mila. As Kim is comfortable, she'll make her way out into the Atrium with baby. Watch for more updates on when you can meet Kim and Max.​


•​Wild Changes are Under Way With the Bicentennial Pavilion

​An innovative transformation is happening at the Zoo. Construction has started on our new Bicentennial Pavilion, which will become an all-seasons destination for family experiences and wild encounters.

When the Bicentennial Pavilion opens to the public in the summer of 2017, guests will also have the chance to experience brilliant birds in a brand new way. Seven species of macaws — 60 birds in all — will join the Zoo's flock and take part in the Magnificent Macaws presentations. Guests will see the macaws' in-air artistry in action as they soar high above the Pavilion from destinations all over the Zoo. 

While work continues on the new Pavilion, activity will be focused near the front of the Zoo where foundations are starting to form. This spectacular structure, which will take the place of our existing Party Pavilion, will​ provide opportunities for a new Zoo experience in the colder and wetter months. The 40,000 square foot pavilion will off​er unique animal programming and a community events space surrounded by beautiful landscaping. 

During the transition, all of our exhibits will stay open, though guests will need to use the north pathway between the Sea Lion and Walrus exhibits or take an Oceans adventure before heading to Forests and the rest of the Zoo. 

​The Bicentennial Pavilion, which is funded through a Lilly Endowment grant, will greatly enhance our guests' experience, and we're excited to break ground on this new part of our Zoo. As this project develops through the winter and into next year, watch our website and social media for updates. [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.