We recently joined extended family for an excursion to the Indianapolis Zoo. I didn’t think much about it until we got there and I realized that we were going to be walking through the zoo with four children- four children ranging in age from 2.5 through 12.5. I wondered how interested each child would be as we meandered through the biomes, and who would announce, “This is boring!” first. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. Everyone, adults included, had a great time. Here are five things we did that appealed to all of the children (and ok, all of the adults)- you may want to incorporate them into your next zoo visit.
JUMP Dog show- We wandered past the Dean Arena just as people were being seated for the JUMP dog show. This twenty minute show kept the attention of everyone in our group, as we learned a bit about each dog and his or her special talents. All of the dogs in the show have been rescued from animal shelters. Our entire party was entertained by dogs catching frisbees, jumping through obstacles and doing acrobatics of sorts. Two search and rescue dogs also demonstrated how they find people by having an audience member hide an object. Everyone applauded as the dogs found the toy, and then the audience member it belonged to out of the hundreds of people watching the show!
Cheetah Run- The cheetah exhibit in the Plains biome is one of the newer exhibits at the zoo. There’s a fun “Cheetah run” activity that the three older children really liked. To demonstrate how fast cheetahs really are, kids are encouraged to “race” them. As the kids run, lights indicate where the cheetah would be in comparison. The activity is only 50 cents, and all proceeds go to wildlife conservation.
Splash zone for dolphin show- The zoo has been offering a dolphin show for a long time, but you haven’t truly experienced the dolphin show until you’ve sat in the Splash Zone. The dolphin show looks completely different when you have a front row seat and can see the dolphins as they speed through the water. It’s also a bit more, um, refreshing as the Splash Zone is also where audience members are almost guaranteed to get wet. All the kids in our group thought it was hilarious, and by far, the best way to watch the dolphin show.
Splash pad for kids- Our visit was on a 95 degree day, so no one needed convincing to cool off. We let the kids splash for a bit before we ate lunch, and by the time we were done eating, they were mostly dry. The splash pad is ideal for kids six and under, but the older kids also had fun cooling off as well.
Butterflies at White River Gardens- Our last stop for the day was the Butterfly exhibit at White River Gardens. Located just to the east of the zoo, admission to the gardens is included with the purchase of zoo tickets. While not every child was excited on the way into the exhibit, none of them wanted to leave when we were finished. We saw dozens of butterflies flittering through the gardens, including butterflies that are not native to our part of the country. The kids all enjoyed watching them up close, and following the butterflies around. They enjoyed looking at the case that held the cocoons, and reading the labels that identified each species. There was also a wall puzzle activity that all four children liked.
We left the zoo exhausted and happy. The children shared their favorite parts on the way home, and we were all proud to have spent six hours at this Indianapolis attraction in relative harmony. We saw our fair share of animals and special attractions, and we are already planning our next visit!