The Indianapolis Zoo, located in downtown Indianapolis, is a great family-friendly activity in Indy. The zoo places an emphasis on orangutans, kangaroos, cheetahs, dolphins, and sting rays.
My husband and I love zoos. Well, we love good zoos!… zoos that really care for the animals and have conservation at the forefront of their minds. We love strolling around as we watch the animals. We love remembering the animals by name and seeing them again and again. We love learning new things about the animals as we watch them sleep, eat, and play. We love it all!
My husband and I have been to so many zoos in the last few years! A few in the midwest include the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, Columbus Zoo, St. Louis Zoo, Toledo Zoo, and The Ark Encounter.
But we grew up going to the Indy Zoo. We both are Indiana natives (check out our post on things to do in Indianapolis!)
We recently decided to check out our local zoo again and were amazed at the upgrades to the Indianapolis Zoo even in the last year!
What are Some Indianapolis Zoo Conservation Efforts?
The Indianapolis Zoo awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to a conservationist making a difference in their community each year through what they call the Indianapolis Prize. Read more here!
Additionally, the zoo began the Saving Species Challenge the strives to reverse the decline in a species before it’s too late. One million dollars will be invested in early 2024 to support conservation efforts that are directly influencing an animal considered extinct in the wild, critically endangered, or vulnerable to extinction.
Indianapolis Zoo Animals
Considering the Indianapolis Zoo is located in a bustling city, there are quite a few animals there! But every zoo seems to have a few exhibits/animals with which they primarily focus.
The Indianapolis Zoo is probably most known for its elaborate orangutan exhibit and dolphin exhibit and show. However, the zoo also puts an emphasis on stingrays, cheetahs, and kangaroos.
Let’s begin with a look at each section of the zoo.
The Plains at the Indianapolis Zoo
The Plains is the Indianapolis Zoo’s African savannah section. They have giraffes, zebras, ostriches, elephants, cheetahs, and more. This is one of my favorite sections of the zoo. The animals seem to always be out moving around. And I love watching the different species interact with each other.
Plus, this is where the cheetah run is. Visitors can see how fast they can run compared to a cheetah. It’s a fun activity for kids!
Stingrays, Dolphins, and Other Aquatic Animals
The Indy Zoo has an aquarium called The Oceans. Outside of the building are seals and sea lions that are fun to watch. Inside, there are several tanks with aquatic animals including lionfish, jellyfish, parrotfish, eels, sea horses, and more. They also have a penguin exhibit.
But probably the most loved section of The Oceans includes a stingray petting area. (There are also small sharks there, but they don’t come near visitors much!). We went with my friends’ three kids a few years ago and could have spent hours there! The kids loved it!
Dolphins at the Indianapolis Zoo
Additionally, the dolphin exhibit is a well-loved area of the Indianapolis Zoo. Not only is there a free dolphin show(!), but visitors can go into an underwater dome where the dolphins are swimming above and all around them!
I have noticed that most zoos in the Midwest don’t have dolphins. The Brookfield Zoo in Chicago has dolphins but you must pay extra for the show. We also went to the dolphin show at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago a few years ago and found it just as interesting as the Indy Zoo’s dolphin show.
But, because the Indy Zoo not only has a show but also a very cool exhibit, I would rank it very high for the area. This is definitely a can’t-miss exhibit!
The Desert at the Indianapolis Zoo
Be ready for the heat as you step inside this temperature-regulated dessert featuring animals such as tortoises, lizards, meerkats, and a room full of snakes!
The Indianapolis Zoo’s orangutan exhibit is very impressive! Not only is the elaborate building located in the middle of the zoo, but it contains several outcropping columns where the orangutans can climb from tower to tower through a series of cables. It is not uncommon in the morning to see orangutans out and about looking down on the zoo guests as they move from one section of the zoo to another.
There is also a great skyline gondola ride where you can get a better look at these great apes as they shuffle from tower to tower. It is worth the $4! Check out more info on the ride below!
Flights of Fancy
Flights of Fancy is an aviary with several types of birds, including flamingos, budgies, and lorikeets. To be honest, I don’t know much about this section because I am not a fan of birds!
The kangaroo exhibit is one of the newest at the Indianapolis Zoo. Visitors can walk past red kangaroos on a pathway through the exhibit. Cockatoos are also sitting in the trees in this area.
The Forests is the last section of the Indy Zoo. Here you’ll find bears, tigers, macaws, red pandas, gibbons, and more. A section of it was under construction when we went in the late spring of 2023. I’m hoping that means some great upgrades will be made to this area, because it is definitely my least favorite section of the zoo. I don’t believe the exhibits have changed in years.
Rides at the Indianapolis Zoo
The carousel is located outside of Flights of Fancy next to the orangutan exhibit. This is a great place to grab a snack and relax while the children enjoy the carousel.
Skyline Gondola Lift at the Indianapolis Zoo
This is my favorite ride at the Indianapolis Zoo! If you go in the morning when the orangutans are out, you get to enjoy the apes, the skyline downtown, and the bustling zoo below. It is very reasonably priced (currently $4/person or $35 for 10 tickets) and feels very safe.
Train Ride at the Indianapolis Zoo
Kids usually love the train ride at the Indianapolis Zoo, but honestly, I am not a fan. The train takes you behind the zoo keeper buildings and along the road. There are almost no animals to view on the ride.
The Indianapolis Zoo has a kid-friendly roller coaster located very close to the gondola ride. It’s short but sweet. A great option for an older kid visiting the zoo.
Other Activities at the Indianapolis Zoo
One of our favorite activities at the Indianapolis Zoo is the giraffe feeding! Two times a day there are scheduled feedings when visitors can give the giraffes a carrot. Maybe this is one of my favorites because I love giraffes(!), but I’m sure your little ones will love it too!
Note: This is a great activity available at most zoos. If you or your kids love giraffes, it is usually a great activity. At the time of writing this, the Indianapolis Zoo charges $4/person or $35 for 10 tickets that can be used for feedings and rides.
The Indianapolis Zoo also holds an elephant chat and red panda chat, but we have never attended.
And just outside of the Indianapolis Zoo (using the same parking lot) is White River Gardens where visitors can walk through a butterfly garden. Admission does cost extra.
Where is the Indianapolis Zoo?
Address: 1200 W. Washington Street Indianapolis, IN 46222
How Much Does the Indianapolis Zoo Cost?
I will warn you that the biggest con of the Indianapolis Zoo is the price. We have found this zoo to be more expensive than most zoos within 2-3 hours from Indy. (In fact, the St. Louis Zoo is free!!) However, knowing they are providing some great conservation efforts makes the price of admission more reasonable.
The price of the Indianapolis Zoo changes based on the day chosen. We were lucky enough to get cheaper tickets while the zoo was doing some construction recently. I believe we paid $20 per person.
At the time of writing this post, an adult ticket is usually $32.75 and a child ticket is $13.75. Buying tickets online is usually a bit cheaper, so definitely try there first! Also, be prepared for $10 in parking fees.
Or many locals have found that buying an annual membership pass is worth it. Currently with individual membership prices at $170, one member and one guest can come as often as they’d like. While this doesn’t help those driving through Indy once, it may be beneficial to locals or those that find themselves in the Indy area often. The Indy Zoo is great, but it is quite expensive otherwise!
Any Indianapolis Restaurant Suggestions for Those (Like Me!) Who Are Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free?
Yes! I have written an extensive post on the dairy-free and gluten-free options around downtown Indianapolis! All are within I-465. If you are a vegan, it also mentions vegan options.
Unfortunately, the Indianapolis Zoo is not allergy-friendly. However, there is a small restaurant located inside the Indiana State Museum on that list. It would be within walking distance of the zoo. Additionally, Cafe Patachou is a great option for dairy-free and gluten-free in downtown Indy! It is also listed in the blog post linked above.
While the Indianapolis Zoo may be a bit pricey, there are a few notable exhibits that make it worth the expense if you’re in the Indy area and love animals. If you love orangutans, dolphins, kangaroos, or stingrays, the Indianapolis Zoo is for you! I have not found better exhibits for these animals anywhere in the area.