Guest Author - Sarah Roop
Located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this small-town zoo has grown to become one of the top zoos in the country. From its humble beginnings in 1952 as a 54 acre nature preserve, it quickly became obvious that there was much more the public wanted, and within 10 years the city decided to turn it into a children’s zoo.
On July 3, 1965 the zoo officially opened to the public. It was a mere five and a half acres. From the beginning it has been a self-sustaining zoo. By 1969 the zoo had begun its zoo-mobile program, which brought the animals to the schools to teach area children in an interactive manner. This program continues to this day.
Today the zoo is one of the top zoos in the nation, with over 1500 animals in several large exhibits, such as the African Journey, Australian Adventure, Indonesian Rainforest, and the central zoo. The central zoo area has Monkey Island where you can watch monkeys frolic in a “cageless” enclosure. You can talk to a toucan and spend hours watching otters, sea lions, and penguins. The petting zoo is fun for young and old alike, and you can feed the animals as you walk through their enclosure. There is also a train ride and pony rides, as well as alligators, giant tortoises, and llamas.
African Journey, which contains lions, hyenas, zebras, wildebeests, and ostriches to name but a few species gracing this part of the zoo. It also has an area where you can actually feed and pet the giraffes and a sky ride which will give you an aerial view of the African Journey.
The Australian Adventure consists of a large nocturnal house which contains several species of bats as well as other nocturnal animals. The Great Barrier Reef Aquarium has everything from jellyfish to sharks and a large viewing aquarium. The Australian Adventure also contains an aviary and a family friendly log ride. You can see kangaroos, a real Tasmanian devil, dingoes, and Echidnas(spiny anteaters).
The Indonesian Rainforest consists of a world class carouseland a large domed area, which is a wonderful walk through adventure that is every bit as hot and steamy as the real rainforest. It has a stream and a waterfall with birds and butterflies everywhere you look. You will also have the pleasure of viewing tigers, orangutans and a Komodo dragon outside of the dome.
There are several bronze sculptures scattered throughout the zoo, and beautiful landscaping. It will take an entire day to see everything, so bring your walking shoes, and don’t forget your camera.