Photos by: Laura Niemiec
The Washington Park Zoo founded in 1928, encompasses 15 acres on a hilly sand dune located near the southern shore of beautiful Lake Michigan in Michigan City. The zoo exhibits more than 90 species originating throughout the world. The animals are exhibited in natural settings, surrounded by botanical plantings. Among the exhibits are bengal tigers, cotton top tamarins, american alligators, a grizzly bear, grey wolves, ring-tailed lemurs, river otters, bald eagles, and more.
Dig the Dunes talked to Shawne Sheldon, the zoo’s retail manager, and got the scoop on this popular destination for both locals and tourists.
What are some highlights of the zoo? Our Discovery Center exhibits some of the cold-blooded creatures including lizards, snakes, and frogs. We also have the Australian Adventure which is a walk through aviary featuring over 250 colorful free flying parakeets, and then the red barn exhibit is always popular, housing the miniature domestic horses, donkeys, pigs, and goats.
The zoo also has many unique historical WPA walkways and buildings, including the 70 foot tall observation tower and education Rotary Castle.
How many people work at the zoo? The Zoo currently has 5 full time keepers, Zoo Director Jamie Huss and myself, along with many seasonal staff that help with everything from animal care to gift shop/concessions to train and aviary attendants.
How about some fun facts about animals you have at the zoo?
The 3 banded armadillo is one of the few armadillo species that is capable of rolling into a ball
Artic Foxes hearing is so good they can locate the exact position of their prey under snow and then they pounce to grab their prey
Lions are the second largest big cat- tigers are the biggest
Lions have the loudest roar of the big cats
One wolf can consume 20 lbs. of meat in one sitting
Bald Eagles can dive for fish at speeds of 75-99 mph
How does someone become a member? What are the perks? A basic membership for a family is $60. This will cover 2 adults and any children under 18. The pass is good for a full year and you will also receive 4 free admissions for parking, discounts on our programs, camps and special events and a 10% discount in the gift shop. The memberships also reciprocates with other zoos around the US that will offer discounted or free admission into their zoo. Memberships can be purchased at the zoo window or on our website at www.washingtonparkzoo.com
What are your hours? Any upcoming events? The Zoo is open from 10am to 4pm with last admission at 3:00pm. We are open every day except for Oct 21st for Boo at the Zoo, which is our trick or treating event for families. We strongly suggest you get your tickets ahead of time as this is a very popular event! More information can be found here. Our last day open is Oct 31st 2017 and we will open back up on April 1st 2018. So come on in and check us out this month!
The Washington Park Zoo is located at: 115 Lake Shore Drive, Michigan City, IN washingtonparkzoo.com
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