The Indianapolis Zoo is one of the few zoos in the United States accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). More importantly, the Indianapolis Zoo is the foremost attraction and educational site in the city solely focused on environmentalism as well as animal conservation and ecosystems, and visitors to the Zoo can affront a whole variety of exotic and domestic animals across the entire animal kingdom.
Located in White River Gardens, the Indianapolis Zoo focuses on the concept of biomes throughout the park, which features animals and ecosystems of different areas of the planet. These biomes include Forests, Oceans, Deserts, Encounters, and Plains, all of which represent nearly 250 species and more than 2,000 varieties of plants.
Across the five biomes at the Indianapolis Zoo, there are approximately 250 species of animals and over 2,000 varieties of plants, and since the Zoo is non-profit and it is accredited by the AZA and AAM, the Indianapolis Zoo dedicates itself to providing exceptional care and quality of life for the animals.
Each ecosystem in the zoo, consequently, features natural plants and landscapes, mimicking the biome native to the species. When walking into the Zoo, the first area most visitors encounter includes the Ocean Biome, the OneAmerica Foundation Entry Gallery, and the Efroymson Gallery, which features a large tank with cownose rays and wobbegong sharks. In addition to eels, morays, and ephemeral jelly fish, the Ocean Biome is also the home to the Dolphin Pavilion and other marine mammals.
Reptiles, birds, meerkats, and free-roaming lizards, among many others, live in the Desert Biome. The Forest Biome focuses on temperate and tropical forests from various areas around the earth, and this biome includes predatory Amur tigers, Alaskan brown bears, red pandas, and white-handed gibbons. The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is home to eight endangered orangutans, and the facility is specifically designed to meet their intellectual, social, and physical needs
The Planes Biome focuses on the large vistas common to Africa, and this is where visitors can see giraffes, zebra, vultures, elephants, cheetahs, lions, wild dogs, and much more. Lastly, the Encounters: Flight of Fancy Biome is the home to exotic bird species from around the world.
The Indianapolis Zoo remains a highly prominent and respected non-profit institution due to its conservation and biological study efforts. In addition to conservation, which would include population studies, ecosystems, breeding, and so forth, the Indianapolis Zoo Animal Enrichment program also seeks to learn more about animal behavior, needs, and even senses.
The enrichment program takes information and behaviors vigorously studied in the species' natural habit and stimulates intellect and instinct by mimicking those conditions. For example, in the Deserts Biome, the meerkats enjoy a vast system of underground tubes that mimics the burrows they dig. In the Encounters Biome, the taveta golden weavers receive various types of grasses to encourage creativity in building nests.
This program gives both researchers and visitors a first-hand look into animal behavior and psychology, while at the same time the program allows for profound education and knowledge to bring animals and humans closer together.
Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO once said, “We're not a zoo doing conservation; we're a global conservation organization that is a zoo.” Complementing this philosophy, the Indianapolis Zoo places significant emphasis on conservation and sustainability efforts.
The Hix Institute for Research and Conservation at the Zoo develops strategic objectives toward conservation awareness, promotes sustainable behavior, protects wildlife and wild places, and helps advance conservation knowledge.2