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The Indianapolis Zoo makes for great visits in the winter

Just because it is the middle of a long winter you should not shy away from a day trip to the Indianapolis Zoo. You will need to dress for cold weather. But keep in mind that the crowds in winter are considerably smaller than those in sunny summer weather.

Many of the animals actually enjoy the winter weather. Several species at the zoo will be more active during the cold weather months. Those animals whose natural habitat includes cold weather really enjoy the cold Midwestern temperatures. The Amur tigers, red pandas, Alaskan brown bears and California sea lions all enjoy cold weather.

Many think that the pink flamingos are strictly a tropical bird. However, the flamingos at the Indy Zoo are used to cold weather and only stay inside if the outside conditions are slippery or icy. Normally you can see the flamingos any time you visit the zoo.

The zoo does provide some features that help the animals in the extreme cold weather. In the Tiger Forest there are heated rocks that give the big cats a warm and dry place to rest up and warm up. The water temperatures are controlled in the walrus, seals/sea lions, and polar bear pools.

The penguins are enjoying the weather, even though they are by the calendar in their summer months. The penguin exhibit is climate controlled all year round. The penguins are in the Oceans Exhibit building and are active all the time.

Also available year round are the other Oceans exhibits. These include the Marsh Dolphin Theater shows and the famous smooth dog shark petting pool. The shark petting pool is the largest in the country.

Take advantage of the smaller crowds this winter at the Indianapolis Zoo. Dress warmly for the outside exhibits and then shed that coat for the inside animals. And if you really want to get a taste of warm weather, visit the Hilbert Conservatory in White River Gardens. The tropical environment will make you feel warm.

Check the Indy Zoo website for hours, ticket prices and other information.

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