Indy Zoo Revue Finale: Habitats & Handicraft


This one’s for the orangutans. Just the orangutans.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In June my wife and I took my mom for a walk around the premises of our own Indianapolis Zoo to check out the current residents and the architectural upgrades on a sunny but not-so-sweltering Saturday. In this very special miniseries, we’ll take a look at the beasts and critters who welcomed us and hundreds of other families along the way.

We conclude these galleries with a look at the scenes behind the animals — the spacious, sometimes lavish enclosures provided for the various residents at our zoo. When I was a kid, the old zoo on the east side was all about stacks of metal cages, concrete floors, and tightly crowded wildlife as depressing sideshow. My family has seen a number of zoos around the country over the past dozen years and appreciate those that defy the obsolete paradigm. If they can tuck in a few works of art around the edges for value-added visual flair, so much the better.


A recent addition, the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center would probably have been cooler if the orangutans hadn’t all been on break when we showed up. Better luck next time, I guess.

Skyline, Down...

The Skyline is another feature added since our last visit. Unfortunately a mechanical malfunction earlier that week had left it closed this day. As of this writing it’s now back in service, which does me no good here at home after the fact.

Bicentennial Pavilion!

Even brand newer: the Bicentennial Pavilion, a dedicated space for animal performances throughout the day, available for high-end evening event rentals.

Macaw Manor!

After catching the end of a macaw demonstration in the Pavilion upon our arrival, we later viewed the lot of them inside their two-story housing unit. Some clung to branches, others to the ceiling.

Monkey Mesh!

Some animals were allowed open spaces without roofs or walls. The monkeys, not so much. Such is the price of expert acrobatics.


Reptiles and other specimens requiring higher temperatures live in the climate-controlled Deserts dome. I have no idea why such a crowd was so excited to escape into a complete lack of cool air.

Sea Lion Lair!

Sea lions had the best deal of the day: cool air and cool water.

Bear Hollow!

Meanwhile, the bears practically get their own amphitheater. If only they could sing or play instruments like, say, the Banana Splits.

Wishing Bridge!

Among the sights in the Forests section is a wishing bridge where you can toss spare change into the gaping maw of an inanimate gator and see if it grants your wish.

Chinese lions?

These Chinese lion sculptures (I think?) are the Zoo’s first line of greeters out in the parking lot.


As if to prove that naturally cultivated living stations beat anything man-made, this flower jutted out of one area and invited any nearby insects to come pay it a visit.

Apart from a few dozen redundant outtakes, this effectively concludes our look at the Indianapolis Zoo. Our next series plus a backlog of one-off entries should resume shortly.

Thanks for reading! Other chapters in this miniseries:

Part 1: Lions and Tigers and Bears!
Part 2: The Birds!
Part 3: Reluctant Monkeys
Part 4: The Birds II: Budgie & Lorie
Part 5: Everybody in the Water
Part 6: A Cold-Blooded Cache
Part 7: Last Call for Critters

Hand Crab!

The aquatic lifeforms looked pretty much as you’d expect except for one tank where the rare, elusive “hand crab” had chased out all residents.

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