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Plan Your Visit to Potawatomi Zoo

Walking through the main gates at Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend 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 with 400 hundred-plus animals. 

The zoo is currently closed for the season except during weekends for The Gift of Lights. Stay tuned for the Winter Days schedule and opening plans for the 2023 season.

Holiday Lights at the Zoo

More than a million lights are wrapped around trees and displays for The Gift of Lights, one of the area's favorite holiday displays. Visit the zoo on the weekends from Nov. 25-Dec.18 to see it for yourself.

Get to Know the Potawatomi 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.

The Zoo season runs from early April through the end of October, with many special events along the way. Although it is mostly closed during the winter, there are some special open days throughout the snowy season.

Giraffe Feeding at the Zoo

Giraffes joined the zoo in 2022 and have quickly become a visitor favorite! They can be found roaming around a brand new exhibit built specifically for them. They wander through a savannah with several other animals. 

Animal Encounters

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). 

Other Things to Do in 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.