- 500 S. Greenlawn Avenue
- South Bend, IN 46615
- (574) 235-9800
This summer has been pretty busy for us and zoos. L loves going to see the animals and J and I enjoy checking out new places.
Last weekend, was the first weekend in a while where we didn’t have family commitments, so I asked J on Saturday if she wanted to get up on Sunday and take a day trip to South Bend. She was excited to check out a new zoo and so was I.
The Potawatomi Zoo is in the Potawatmi Park on the east side of South Bend. It’s in a pretty heavy residential neighborhood and quite a ways from an expressway, so it takes a lot of weaving to get back to the large park.
The zoo opens at 10 AM and we had planned on being there close to that time. We arrived to the park about 10:15 after a few potty breaks. The parking lots in front of the zoo entrance were already starting to fill up. It appears others had the same idea we did.
The Potawatomi Zoo is on the Association of Zoos & Aquariums reciprocal list which always works in our favor as members at Binder Park Zoo. Admission is $8.50 for adults and with our half off with the Binder Park membership, we only end up paying for one adult. Two and under is free, so we were able to get in for the price of one adult admission.
The Potawatmi Zoo is one of those deceptively large zoos. It’s not huge, but it’s much bigger than it feels when you first look at it. The zoo is situated on 23 acres of land and it holds the honor of being Indiana’s oldest zoo.
There’s a fairly simple trail to follow to see all of the animals. Immediately inside the entrance is a building with lizards, amphibians, small monkeys, snakes, frogs, and lemurs. We walked past this for the time being and actually hitting it on the way out.
Instead, we started with the tigers. There are two exhibits near the entrance. One has an Amur Tiger. The other has a White Bengal Tiger. Both were sleepy, but L hopped right up to the glass and started pointing and the “Lion.” Close enough, we corrected her and she was then happy to see the tigers taking a nap. The zoo does have a lion a little ways down the trail from the tigers, but when we got to that exhibit, we didn’t see it. We didn’t tell L what was supposed to be in there so she didn’t know any better.
On the way to the lion cage from the tigers is the petting yard. L hopped out of her stroller once she saw the goats in the Contact Corral. While J parked the stroller outside, L and I ran to the goats which she just talked to and tried to say “hi.” They didn’t say “hi” back but that didn’t stop L from trying.
The next really cool exhibit we found was the chimpanzee’s. The two chimps have both an inside and outside enclosure that they can go between and both chimps were in the inside. There was another family that walked up about the same time we did and the larger chimp took notice. It came over to the window and started to put on a show playing with the kids. It was mimicking their actions for a while then the kids would put their hands on the window and the chimp would give them “high fives” through the glass. L thought it was hilarious and probably would have been happy to stay there the rest of the day, but we asked her to keep moving so we could see more animals.
Up next was the Australian Walkabout. I love zoos that have these. It’s always so neat to see the kangaroos and wallaby’s hopping around. The kangaroos were just kind of hanging out near the path, but a wallaby hopped across the trail in front of us. Again, L thought this was hilarious.
There is no carousel for L at the Potawatmi Zoo, but they do have a train. L had been really good up to that point, so we told her we would take a train ride. The cost is $2 per person with under two being free again. The short ride around the west end of the zoo is narrated and they point out the animals and interesting facts along the way. It moved a little slow for L who got bored about halfway through, but it was still a train ride and it was still fun.
Once getting off the train, we only had a few animals left. We checked out the Galapagos Tortoise then walked over to the alligators. L was started to get over it at this point, so we made a pretty quick trek out to the large River Otter display. Unfortunately, they were hiding out in a hollowed out log to get out of the heat which was starting to get pretty intense in direct sunlight.
We finished our loop around the zoo through The Americas exhibit then headed back towards the exit. In all, we spent a couple hours at the zoo and really enjoyed it. Since L was born a little over two years ago, we’ve really enjoyed going to the zoo. L loves it and can’t get enough of the animals. Our membership at Binder Park has been a great thing because it’s gotten us in to a lot of great zoos pretty cheaply which has allowed us to travel a little more and see a lot of different animals.