Latest Zoo News

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

•​ 'Tis the Season for Holiday Festivities at the Zoo

The most wonderful time of the year is approaching, and so is the 48th year of Christmas at the Zoo presented by Teachers Credit Union and Donatos! Beginning Friday, Nov. 25, celebrate the holidays with us every Wednesday-Sunday from 5-9pm, Nov. 25-27, 30; Dec. 1-4, 7-11, 14-23, 26-30. The Zoo is closed on Christmas Eve and Day and New Years Eve and Day.

The Zoo opens at Noon, so bring the flock early to get a good parking spot and see our colder-weather animals like seals and sea lions, tigers, bears, and more! Stay until it gets dark to watch the night shine from our 100 percent LED lights display presented by Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent, and We Three Trees presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers.

Travel to Santa's Workshop presented by Chick-Fil-A in White River Gardens for cookies with Mrs. Claus and to see Santa himself! Or search for the hidden mistletoe throughout our winter wonderland for a chance to win an Animal Art Adventure! Take a photo with the sleigh in Oceans or watch the holiday classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the 4-D theater. With so many more festive favorites like special keeper chats, rides, and carolers too — the whole family is sure to make unforgettable Christmastime memories.

Plus, when cheeks get rosy, see all of our indoor exhibits — Oceans, Deserts, and the Simon Skodjt International Orangutan Center! Or grab a hot beverage and holiday treat to cozy up by one of our two campfire locations. For more event details and our tips for making the most of your experience, click on our events tab.

 Christmas at the Zoo is included with regular Zoo admission and free to Zoo members. Discount tickets are available at participating Teachers Credit Union and Donatos locations across Central Indiana. Or you can save time and money by purchasing advance tickets online. [close]

•​ Hey Shutterbugs! Send Us Your Incredible Animal Photos

Calling all photographers: Do you have an incredible image of our animals from a recent Zoo visit? Show us what your camera lens has captured — submit your Zoo pics in our Shutterbug Challenge!
We are searching for a fabulous fan photo to feature as the centerpiece in an upcoming issue of Indianapolis Zoo Magazine. Submit your photos now and our editors will narrow the field down to five. Then keep an eye on the Indianapolis Zoo's Facebook page and future editions of our Member eNews where you'll have the chance to vote on your favorite photo. The image that receives the most votes will be featured as an 11-by-17 pullout poster in an upcoming issue of the Indianapolis Zoo Magazine, plus the photographer will receive a Zoo prize pack and a copy of the magazine. To be considered:

  • ​Photos should be of Indianapolis Zoo animals only.

  • Photos must be a minimum of 2000px by 1500px. Both vertical and horizontal formats will be accepted.

  • Electronic images should be sent as a .jpg attachment to and must be received no later than 11:59pm Sunday, Dec. 11. Photos received after that date will be considered for the next magazine issue.

  • Entries must also include the photographer's name as you want it to appear in a photo credit. The photographer must also submit a completed photo copyright release allowing the Zoo to use the image.

  • Each photographer can submit up to five images. [close]

•​ Vote Indianapolis Zoo for USA Today's Best Zoo Lights 2016

We're so excited that for the second year in a row, the Indianapolis Zoo has been nominated for USA Today's 10 Best Zoo Lights! In 2015, we finished in the top five in this nationwide readers' choice award contest with your support. This year, we're aiming for No. 1, and we need everyone's help to get there!  ​Voting continues through Monday, Dec. 5.

Vote daily to support your city and your Zoo, and remember to encourage your friends and family to do the same! Then come experience the beauty and magic of the Zoo in wintertime when Christmas at the Zoo presented by Teachers Credit Union and Donatos opens to the public on Friday, Nov. 25.

Christmas at the Zoo is a beloved holiday tradition for families across Central Indiana. In 1967, the Indianapolis Zoo became the first zoo in the United States to host a holiday lights event, so we think our city also deserves the honor for best lights. [close]

•​Wild Changes are Under Way With the Start of our Bicentennial Pavilion

​As the seasons begin to change and summer turns to fall, an innovative transformation is beginning 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. Watch for more details soon about these daily encounters. 

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. 

As we enter the holiday season, visitors can also enjoy all of their favorite ZooBoo and Christmas at the Zoo activities this year. Just look for updates on our event maps.

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]​​

 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]​

•​ 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]​​

•​ 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.

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

​​​​•​ 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]​​