Latest Zoo News

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

•​ Rescued California Sea Lions Join Our Zoo Famil​y

Two young girls from California are already turning heads as the newest residents of the Indianapolis Zoo.

California sea lions Harley and Ivy are adjusting well to their new home after arriving here in July. The pair recently joined the seven other marine mammals in our seal/sea lion exhibit​ for the first time and delighted guests by splashing and playing together for hours​

Both youngsters came to the Zoo from SeaWorld's Animal Rescue Center in San Diego, Calif., following multiple strandings and rescue efforts.

The smaller of the two new sea lions, Ivy is estimated around 2 years old. From April 2015 to March 2016, she required treatment for multiple medical conditions during three separate strandings. Most recently, rescuers found her at a cove in La Jolla, Calif., where she was dehydrated and underweight with an open wound on her rear flipper. Now healthy, active and growing, Ivy is easily identifiable as the smallest sea lion in the Zoo's exhibit.

Harley, believed to be about 8 years old, is a spunky sea lion who was rescued following two public incidents just weeks apart. After two earlier health-related strandings, she was found locked inside a seaside restroom in February 2016. Determined to be healthy after a few days of monitoring at the Animal Rescue Center, she was released only to make her way back onto land by mid-March, when she was discovered chasing cars in the streets of La Jolla.

When the National Marine Fisheries Service determined the animals could not be re-released, the Indianapolis Zoo stepped in to provide permanent homes for Ivy and Harley. They will be outside regularly for guests to see.​​​​ [close]

 Weeks Left to Connect to the Wild World With Nature Connects®

Here at the Indianapolis Zoo, it's all about making connections — to animal conservation and our community. So our new temporary exhibit fits in perfectly! If you haven't had a chance to enjoy the Nature Connects®: Art with LEGO® bricks exhibit presented by Citizens Energy Group and Indiana Members Credit Union, don't delay! This engaging and educational exhibit is only here for three more weeks!

Nature Connects features 12 animal sculptures constructed with hundreds of thousands of LEGO® bricks. Visitors will see a polar bear and her cubs, sea horses floating by a coral reef and a snow leopard, to name a few. Artist Sean Kenney's remarkable creations will all be set amid the stunning scenery of White River Gardens. Plus, the little ones can build their own conservation-inspired creation using LEGO® bricks inside the Family Nature Center.

This temporary exhibit, which continues through Labor Day, is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Save time and money on your visit by purchasing advance tickets online[close]

Take Home Your Favorite Wild Paintings From Our Silent Auction​

Only two weeks left to enjoy our Naturally Inspired Art exhibit presented by The Great Frame Up Broad Ripple & Downtown! Earlier this spring, 15 talented artists transformed blank canvases or hunks of clay into extraordinary works of art inspired by nature, right here at the Zoo and White River Gardens.

Our wildly talented bunch – and some artistically inclined animals – produced beautiful works of art, and this is your chance to take those pieces home with you! Join us for the annual Silent Auction and Artists' Reception on Aug. 24 to bid on your favorite artwork, meet the artists, mingle with other zoo patrons, and get after-hours access to Hilbert Conservatory.

This temporary exhibit, which continues through Aug. 24, is free for Zoo members and included with regular admission. Save time and money on your visit by purchasing advance tickets online[close]​

•​ Get Wild About Learning With Seasonal Education Programs​

Discover a love of wildlife by learning more about the world around us! We offer a wide variety of educational programs and special zoo experiences, each designed to engage guests in thinking more about our animals and our role within the environment.

Young scientists can observe, question and explore areas of the Zoo during our Saturday Science Programs while budding conservationists can learn what it takes to work at a zoo during our new Career Tours. Plus, our upcoming adult garden container classes offer the young-at-heart an opportunity to explore their curiosity about the natural world and create a beautiful themed planter to take home.

We also have fun, educational programs for school groups and scout troops! Students can investigate the science behind our natural world through a number of programs, from Orangutan Observers to Tropical Topple. Scout Programs provide a fun way for Scouts to collect experiences that will help them reach their scouting goals.

There's always something new to discover at the Zoo, no matter what your age! Email or call our education department at 317-630-2000 and plan your exciting Zoo experience today. [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]​​

 Indianapolis Zoo named 2016 Indy A List winner​

Have you herd? The Indianapolis Zoo was named an Indy A List winner! We're honored to have been voted Best Family Entertainment for 2016.

The Indy A-List features more than 6,000 businesses competing for the title of Indianapolis' best. There was a stampede of Indianapolis locals who cast more than 100,000 votes to show support for their favorite business and organization nominees.

This is our fifth award from The Indy A List – fur real! Indianapolis Zoo was voted Best Family Entertainment in 2013 and Best Family Fun in 2012. We also ranked second for awards in 2014 and 2008. Plan your visit today and discover why the Zoo is a "Great place to visit no matter what your age!" [close]​

 Curious Giraffe Calf Mshangao is Healthy, Growing Fast​

As summer begins, our 5-month-old giraffe, Mshangao, continues to grow healthy and strong, standing well over 7 feet and weighing upwards of 500 pounds. Zookeepers say he is adventurous and enjoys exploring the giraffe yard with his new friend, an Addra gazelle. Mshangao is the sixth calf — all males — for 18-year-old mother Takasa and is the first giraffe born at the Zoo since 2011.

Mshangao is also exceptionally curious! Zoo-goers may often feel Mshangao's gaze on them from afar, and he occasionally wanders over during public feeds with other members of the herd. Mshangao has already exceeded several expectations, such as chewing on tree trimmings earlier than the four to five months it typically takes for newborns to eat solid food. He also discovered early on how to use his long, prehensile tongue to strip the bark from bigger branches — an important skill for giraffes.

While the zoo received several name suggestions, Mshangao (ma-SHAN-goe), meaning "amazement" or "surprise" in Swahili, was chosen during a public naming poll on the Zoo's Facebook page. The poll drew nearly 4,000 votes in total. The giraffe exhibit and feedings are presented by Meijer. Indianapolis Zoo babies are presented by Hendricks Regional Health.​ [close]

•​ Adorable Orangutan Baby Mila is Starting to Explore

The Indianapolis Zoo is excited to announce the first orangutan birth for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan CenterSirih, the Zoo's 23-year-old Sumatran orangutan gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 5:07pm on March 23. Sirih is a very attentive mom and is doing everything an orangutan mother should do.

Now nearly 3 months old, baby Mila recently started teething. She's also becoming more active every day. She has started to climb and explore a little on her own, though she always stays very close to mom. Sirih and Mila go out into the public spaces of the Center on most days, however we expect there will be days when Sirih chooses to stay behind the scenes. Guests can catch glimpses of baby clinging tightly to mom by looking for her distinguishable lighter colored hair.

Thousands of Zoo fans helped name this adorable newcomer. The name Mila (pronounced MEE-lah) which means "dear one" in Indonesian.

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.

Sirih and first-time father, 14-year-old Basan, were recommended as a breeding pair through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring a sustainable, genetically diverse and demographically varied AZA population. Thanks to our friends at Hendricks Regional Health for presenting Zoo Babies. [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 second 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 eight-week challenge.

Zoo Clues will take you and your family on a scavenger hunt throughout the Zoo. Let the map be your guide to solving each riddle. 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. See you soon, detectives! [close]

•​ New Presentation Will Highlight Connection to Dolphins in the Gulf

As a global conservation organization, the Indianapolis 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.

The new dolphin presentation will be unveiled this summer. Come celebrate the world we share together and see how the blue thread of water connects us all. [close]

​​​​•​ Indianapolis Zoo Earns AZA's Quarter Century Award

The Indianapolis Zoo is pleased to announce it has earned the Quarter Century Award, recognizing 25 years or more of continuous accreditation through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Initially accredited by AZA in 1981, the Zoo was accredited most recently in 2015, marking 34 years of continual accreditation for the Zoo and renewing its commitment to the advancement of animal conservation. Additionally, the Zoo was selected as the recipient of the AZA's 2015 Exhibit Award for Innovation for the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, which opened in May 2014.​

The Quarter Century Award was established in 2015, and the Zoo joins a group of 119 of the nation's top zoos and aquariums in receiving the award. For the Zoo's accreditation, it underwent a thorough review by the AZA's independent Accreditation Commission to ensure the Zoo has and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, safety and other areas. The AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this extensive process every five years to remain accredited.​ Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium to know you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things.​

The Zoo, which is home to nearly 1,400 animals and 31,000 plants, was the first in the nation to be triple accredited as a zoo, aquarium and botanical garden. It's also one of the largest zoos in the U.S. that receives no direct tax support. In addition to being a leader in global conservation, the Indianapolis Zoo is one of the state’s largest attractions, hosting more than a million visitors annually. ​[close]​​