This unique Zoo event and race-fan favorite, which is held annually the Wednesday before Memorial Day, includes a morning of family-friendly pre-race festivities leading up to the “Greatest Spectacle in Tortoise Racing.”
As you come in, meet 500 Festival Princesses and take a photo in front of a real pace car. Then, follow the tortoise and dairy fun facts back toward the Arena for the pre-race festivities, including a race-themed photo op, animal artifacts and tortoise-themed activities. Plus, the American Dairy Association will be handing out free milk chugs from DairyPure and TruMoo (while supplies last). New this year, visit the Snake Pit to meet a snake up close, create enrichment for our animals and take the pledge to save tortoises. At 11am, racing expert Mike King and Indianapolis 500 Champion Tony Kanaan begin their pre-race commentary leading up to the parade lap at 11:30am. Following the parade, Tony Kanaan will serve as Grand Marshal to start the race with the green flag and wave the checkered flag to signal the winner!
It’s always exciting to cheer on the tortoises as they race up, down and around the straight track! But these natives of Madagascar don’t race for a trophy. Instead, they’re after the delicious fruits waiting at the finish line. As the radiated tortoises race down the course, you can catch a glimpse of their beautifully marked shells, which have star-patterned stripes radiating from the center (hence their name). Because of these markings, radiated tortoises are considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises.
After the race, a “pit crew” member will join the American Dairy Association in the Winner’s Circle to drink a glass of milk on behalf of the winning tortoise. Our Deserts team will also be there to answer any tortoise-related questions and tell you all about the Zoo’s efforts to help these endangered animals.
Zoopolis 500 is one of the Zoo’s oldest and most popular events, and has been highlighted by Top Events USA’s website as one of the top events in Indianapolis! Come out and see what makes the Greatest Spectacle in Tortoise Racing such a beloved Zoo event.