Walking through the main gates at Potawatomi Zoo reveals a sanctuary for nature lovers.
Wallabies hop across open, grassy spaces. Spider monkeys move gracefully from tree to tree. Okapi enjoy a delicious helping of leaves. Lions roar. Sights and sounds abound in a family friendly environment.
Inside the Zoo
Established in 1902 as a duck pond at Leeper Park, Potawatomi Zoo is Indiana’s first zoo. It’s home to over 400 animals. Big cats like the Amur tigers, African lion, Amur leopards and snow leopards are big draws. Visitors also love the red pandas, Southern White rhino and North American River otters.
Did You Know? Male lions can weigh up to 550 pounds and females up to 400. When they roar, it can be heard throughout the zoo and even into the nearby community.
Elsewhere in the zoo you’ll find reptiles, like snakes and lizards, several bird species, frogs and even tarantula.
No trip to the zoo is complete without saying hello to the okapi, an endangered species from Africa that moved into the zoo in 2017.
Their white-and-black striped hindquarters and front legs would make you think they are closely related to a zebra. That’s not the case. They’re related to the giraffe. Potawatomi Zoo is the only zoo in Indiana and Michigan that features an okapi.
Did You Know? The Okapi’s tongue ranges from 14 to 18 inches in length.
Here’s your chance to get up close with some of your favorite zoo animals. There are two options: Bison Encounter and Rhino Encounter.
MORE INFO: Animal Encounters at the Zoo
Bison Encounter includes the chance to meet the zoo’s three North American Bison: Geornimo, Bobbie and Zipper. Visitors can learn more about the animals from the zoo keeper and even feed them. These take place at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $20 per person.
The Rhino Encounter brings you close to Masamba, a Southern White rhino. This experience includes the opportunity to touch Masamba. These take place at 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $50 per person (limited to ages six and up).
Right near the Okapi, you can find one of its newest neighbors. The zoo in the fall of 2019 welcomed a male white rhinoceros named Masamba, who came from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Did You Know? There are fewer than 30,000 wild rhinos across five subspecies in Africa and Asia.
COMING SOON: GIRAFFES
Potawatomi Zoo in 2021 announced a new project: bringing a giraffe savanna and watering hole to the heart of the zoo. It will include an opportunity to feed giraffes from an elevated platform and watch the animals roam their habitat with other African wildlife.
Construction has already started on the exhibit, which should be complete later this year!
AROUND THE ZOO
Be sure to visit the farm area of the zoo. There you can feed goats and alpacas. Watch the North American river otter glide under water. And listen to the yellow-crested cockatoo talk about what a pretty bird it is.
Hop on the Zoo Train and you’ll see many animals on site and, before you leave, take a ride on the hand-crafted and hand-painted Endangered Species Carousel. Cap off your trip by riding one of the 18 unique animals including a zebra, lion, leopard and tortoise.
One more thing: Did you know brews are available at the zoo? Beer and wine are available whenever the zoo is open. Plus, there are special events where local and regional craft breweries and wineries come in to pour samples.