/  North America   /  United States   /  Indiana   /  
Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana

5 Best Zoos and Aquariums in Indiana (2022)

Indiana is actually home to a total of six zoos and one massive aquarium, which is located inside the Indianapolis Zoo itself. However, there are two aquariums from neighboring states that are very popular in Indiana, and you will frequently find people going over to visit these spectacular underwater attractions. Of course, the biggest zoo in the state remains the fabulous Indianapolis Zoo. However, there are many other incredible zoos in the state that you must visit.

5 Best Zoos and Aquariums in Indiana

Here are some of the best zoos and aquariums in Indiana.

1. Indianapolis Zoo

One of the most popular and family-friendly attractions to visit in Indiana is the Indianapolis Zoo. Located in the capital city of Indiana, the zoo opened its gates to the public in 1964, and since then, it has expanded and grown into a place that is synonymous with the city of Indianapolis. Today the zoo is home to over 3,500 animals belonging to 320 species and subspecies. This is a huge number of animals that not many other city zoos can boast of.

The Indianapolis Zoo is the perfect place to visit with children to let them discover and see animals from different ecosystems. And it is the ideal attraction for people of all ages who can spend the day at their own pace, wandering through the various exhibits and trying out new experiences like swimming with the dolphins at the zoo.

In fact, this is the only zoo in the entire Midwest where you can get up close with dolphins in the water.

You can also check out the White River Gardens to find out about what all you can do to help conserve plants and animals through their Conservatory Show.

Apart from this, the major attraction of the zoo is the five different biomes, with each biome consisting of plants and animals that are from the same habitat. The five biomes include Oceans, Deserts, Forests, Plains, and Flights of Fancy.

Visiting the Indianapolis Zoo is a great experience for the entire family, and you also get the opportunity to visit a zoo, an aquarium, and even a botanical garden all under one roof.

2. The Aquarium at the Indianapolis Zoo

The only aquarium in Indiana is located on the premises of the Indianapolis Zoo inside the Zoo’s Oceans Building. The Oceans building is unique because it has its own biome and lets you explore the world underwater from an up-close perspective.

You can see all sorts of marine animals in the aquarium, including:

  • Bottlenose Dolphin
  • Angelfish
  • Coral
  • California Sea Lion
  • Gentoo Penguin
  • Scooter on Land
  • Grey Seal
  • Pacific Walrus
  • King Penguin
  • Lionfish
  • Pot-bellied Sea Horse
  • Rays
  • Sea Anemone
  • Rockhopper Penguin
  • Sea Star
  • Tangs
  • Smooth Dogfish Shark

One of the best exhibits to see here is the walrus exhibit, where one of the fun activities many kids try out is to see if the walrus’ tusks are longer than their arms.

Apart from the Oceans exhibit, the Indianapolis Zoo is also home to the St. Vincent Dolphin Pavilion, which includes a viewing dome. You get to stand here and watch in awe as the dolphins swim above and around you. Standing in the viewing dome, you feel like you are inside a giant bubble, letting you feel what it may be like to live underwater. The Dolphin Pavilion also hosts daily dolphin shows where you get to watch trainers feeding the dolphins and the dolphins performing many spectacular tricks.

3. Potawatomi Zoo

The incredible Potawatomi Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Indiana. The Potawatomi Zoo is located in South Bend, and it was established at least a 100 years ago. In recent years, to celebrate the completion of its 100 years, the zoo announced the introduction of a new species to their zoo family – Giraffes. The zoo also opened a new giraffe savanna and watering hole at the very heart of the zoo, which lets visitors see the animals roaming around in their natural habitat, and you can even walk up to the giraffes and feed them.

While walking around the zoo, you will find a 10,000-square-foot barn that hoses the giraffes, and no matter the weather, you can feed these majestic animals here. The zoo remains open every day from 10 am to 5 pm, and the summer months have extended hours where you can enjoy spending time here at the zoo up to 8 pm.

4. Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the two aquariums that is located in neighboring states but in close proximity to Indiana. The aquarium is located across the border in Illinois in Chicago. The aquarium is home to many marine animals, right from polar bears to Magellanic penguins. This is an indoor aquarium that is home to around 32,000 animals. It was also the first inland aquarium that had a permanent saltwater fish collection.

Located on Lake Michigan on the premises of the Museum Campus Chicago, where you can also find the famous Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. The aquarium contains over 1500 species of animals, including marine mammals, fish, birds, snakes, insects, and amphibians. The galleries at the Shedd Aquarium include:

  • Wild Reef: Around 525,000 gallons of water exist in this gallery, and it is a recreation of a coral reef that hails from the Philippines.
  • Abbott Oceanarium: This is the latest addition to the Shedd Aquarium, and it is home to many marine mammals like beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, and many others. You will also find many types of penguins as well here.
  • Caribbean Reef: This is a unique exhibit as you get to see a diver swimming amongst the animals of the aquarium while also talking and educating the visitors on the various fish that are in the aquarium surrounding him.
  • Amazon River: This exhibit represents the animals of the Amazon River, including electric eels, green anacondas, caiman lizards, etc.
  • Islands and Lakes: This part of the aquarium has created an enclosed ecosystem of many islands and lakes.
  • Oceans: This area of the aquarium lets you explore some of the deep ocean creatures and how they survive and thrive in their ecosystem.
  • Rivers: You get to meet the animals that live in rivers and learn more about their ecosystem.
  • Home on the Great Lakes: This area focuses on the local fish and their habitats. This exhibit is completely dedicated to the Great Lakes.
  • Stingray Touch: This is the place to head to if you want to caress a stingray inside a touch tank.

There is so much to see at the Shedd Aquarium that you can easily spend the entire day here exploring and learning more about these fascinating marine animals.

5. Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is located in the city of Fort Wayne and opened in 1965. Though this is a relatively smaller zoo, there are still around 1000 animals here. Spread out over 40 acres, the zoo is located inside the Franke Park in Fort Wayne. It is run by the Fort Wayne Zoological Society, which is a non-profit organization in cooperation with the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. This is a beautiful zoo that frequently ranks among some of the best zoos in the country.

The zoo is made up of four biomes themed that range from the different parts of the world. These include African Journey, Australian Adventure, Central Zoo, and the Indonesian Rain Forest. There is also the Treetop Trail which is a boardwalk pathway from where visitors can view many rare animals such as the wrinkled hornbill, Javan gibbon, Prevost’s squirrel, and the white-crested laughing thrush.

The zoo also offers educational programs for all ages, such as in-zoo programs and in-class visits.

The other zoos that you can visit in Indiana are the Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden, Washington Park Zoo, and the Columbian Park Zoo. These are much smaller in size but still enjoyable for children and grown-ups alike.

The Sea Life Michigan Aquarium is the second aquarium that many people from Indiana like to visit across the border in Michigan. You will find over 2000 sea creatures here, and Michigan’s only ocean tunnel is a must see as it takes you across the middle of the aquarium.

Where do you want to go?

Get a Quote