Phone  (219) 873-1510

April 1 - Memorial Day
10 am - 4 pm
Memorial - Labor Day
10 am - 5 pm
Labor Day - October 31
10 am - 4 pm
November 1 - March 31
Closed for winter
* Last entry 1 hour before closing

(219) 873-1510
115 Lakeshore Drive
Michigan City, IN 46360

April 1 - Memorial Day
10 am - 4 pm
Memorial - Labor Day
10 am - 5 pm
Labor Day - October 31
10 am - 4 pm
* Last entry 1 hour before closing


Latest Happenings at the Zoo

Washington Park Zoo sets new attendance record

Michigan City, Indiana - The Washington Park Zoo has set a new record for attendance in 2017, up 2.6% from our last record season which was set in 2016.  As of the first week of September 2017, a total of 87,497 guests have visited our furry, feathered and scaly friends (which is 2,273 more guests than at the end of last year!)   While many of the zoo attendees came from Michigan City, about 88% were from out of town and their impact on the local economy is  estimated at $6 million.

Washington Park Zoo closed out 2014 by unveiling new branding for the zoo which focused on making sure that each animal has the best possible care and that every guest has a memorable zoo experience.  One of our main goals was to ensure our guests not only see the animals, but have a chance to connect with them on some level as well because guests that understand about the habitat, diet, and behaviors of an animal appreciate their zoo visits even more.   Education is an integral part of our zoo and helps to spread our message of wildlife conservation by engaging guests in fun, interactive programs that help foster stewards of wildlife.  Our programs include special events, summer camps, outreach programs, in house programs, tours, scout programs, and more.

Since 2015, the Zoo has been moving forward with our 5 year strategic plan, which has enabled us to continue upgrading exhibits, buildings, and grounds. With so much done and yet so much left to do, we are gearing up to launch a major “Roaring Wild for the Zoo” fundraising campaign.  The campaign is going to focus on raising funds to modernize some of the major exhibits like the historic Monkey Island and the Big Cat Habitats.  Monkey Island which was built in 1932, and the Big Cat house which was built in 1975, are not in line with our zoological practices of today. We want the public to know that “we don’t like them either” and that this campaign will help us update these habitats, as well as others.

2018 will mark the 90th anniversary of the Washington Park Zoo and to celebrate we are planning a fun filled season.  The Zoo has a long and rich community history beginning with our start in 1928 and our WPA (Works Progress Administration) construction in the 1930’s.  To mark this significant milestone, a variety of activities will be offered to visitors to commemorate the lasting effects the Zoo has had on Michigan City and the surrounding community and beyond.

The Washington Park Zoo is also dedicated to being a sanctuary for exotic animals in need of a safe home. Some of the zoo’s residents have been misplaced pets that proved to be too wild or were confiscated as illegally owned.  Some have suffered injuries that would make life in the wild impossible and others were removed by the DNR.  In all cases the residents are given the best environments that our staff can provide for their health and mental enrichment needs.  Our Staff is dedicated to the health and welfare of the animals in our care and their relatives in the wild.

If anyone is interested in helping with our campaign, please contact the Zoo to find out more about the projects.  Every dime counts and the contributions made to this project will be quite tangible; the evidence of “before and after” will be profound. The Zoo will also be offering “Zoo–nique” awards to schools, classes, clubs and even businesses who want to contribute with their own fundraising challenges like coin wars, bake sales or blue jean donation days.   All donations are tax deductible and will be directly reinvested in the zoo.  

Approximately 200 animals call the Washington Park Zoo home.  We are open daily from 10am to 4pm until October 31st. Regular admission is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and children ages 3-11, and 2 and under are free.

For more information about the Washington Park Zoo, please visit the Zoo on Facebook or at

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Pollinator Garden at the Washington Park Zoo

Posted on: June 2017

We are excited to announce the sponsorship of Washington Park Zoo’s Pollinator Pathway Garden by Franklin Pest Solution’s. Franklin Pest Solution’s shares the Zoo’s mission to help protect Indiana’s pollinators and they pay special concern for the bee community and migrating butterflies, when conducting services out in the field.

Why bees and butterflies are vital to our existence

The news has been buzzing lately about the decline of our bee populations, and the dramatic consequences their loss could have globally.

Did you know that honey bees perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide, and therefore are invaluable to our food supply. 70% out of the top 100 human food crops – which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition – are pollinated by bees.


Scientists have identified a variety of factors contributing to the decline – drought conditions, habitat destruction, lack of nutrition, global warming and more.

While government agencies and animal conservation organizations are ramping up their efforts to help better protect pollinators, there are things you can do to make your property more bee and butterfly friendly – thus encouraging and securing their existence.

The two easiest ways any homeowner can make their space more bee friendly are by planting the proper flowers for nutrition and providing them with a clean water supply.

Flowers that support pollinators
Pollinators need flowers to collect nectar and pollen throughout the growing season. Your garden plan should include plants, shrubs and trees that bloom at different intervals (early spring through the first frost).

Planting “drifts” of a single type of flower makes it easier for the bees to locate the blooms, and you’ll enjoy the beautiful masses of flowers as well.

Crocus, Daffodil, Hyacinth, Tulip, Allium, Broom, Penstemon, Salvia, Heliotrope, Foxglove, Primrose, Peony, Scabiosa, Iris, Dianthus, Thyme, Sedum, Ice Plant, Butterfly Weed, Dahlia, Blanket Flower, Veronica, Day lily, Oriental lily, Delphinium, Clematis, Honeysuckle, Wisteria, Gladiola, Hibiscus, Mint, Coneflower, Bee Balm, Hyssop, Lavender, Coreopsis, Russian Sage, Astilbe, Coral Bells, Yarrow, Goldenrod, Anemone, Maximillian Sunflower

Nine bark, Forsythia, Lilac, Daphne, Viburnum, Pussy Willow, Cistene Plum, Nanking Cherry, Blueberry, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Magnolia, Barberry, Rose, Butterfly Bush, Mock Orange, Spirea, Potentilla, Rose of Sharon, Hydrangea

Maple, Crabapple, Plum, Peach, Apple, Redbud, Apricot, Cherry, Hawthorn, Honey Locust, Black locust, Pear, Linden, Golden Rain Tree, Pagoda Tree, Buckeye, Horse Chestnut, Catalpa

Squash, Tomato, Pepper, Basil, Borage, Sunflower, Zinnia, Eggplant, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Bean, Cucumber, Dill, Tomatillo, Cosmos

When the long days of summer are gone, many of the plants that fed bees throughout the season are no longer blooming. However, many can be kept flowering by making sure to remove any dead blossoms regularly.

Keeping your plants well hydrated will also help flowers bloom right up until the first frost. Plant Asters and Mums to extend the blooming season in your yard.

All animals need water throughout the year, even bees. During hot summer days, the bees will use the water they’ve collected to cool down their hive, as well as to dilute stored honey so it’s easier to consume.

How You Can Help

  • Learn more about pollinators so you can tell your friends and family why it’s important to keep these special creatures around for the long haul.  Learn all you can about our fascinating native bees and birds and spread the word to friends and neighbors – every little bit of habitat helps!
  • Write your government officials demanding sustainable farming practices – systemic pesticides are the probable cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (the mass disappearance of worker honeybees from a hive) and have caused a sharp decline in honeybee populations in the US and around the world.
  • Buy organic!  95% of our food crops are treated with pesticides – these fruits, vegetables and grains may be a little cheaper than their organic counterparts at the grocery store, but there are hidden costs like health risks to you and your family, and environmental damage that negatively affects all of us.  Frequent your local Farmers Market for great organic produce!
  • Create a bee-friendly garden and provide nesting habitat for native bees.  Visit the website where you can type in your zip code and get a free region-specific planting guide to encourage pollinators and have a healthy, pesticide-free garden.

Back yard Habitat Program

hummingbird.jpgWe’ve teamed up with Franklin Pest Solution’s to create a unique program that supports urban gardeners in their efforts to create natural backyard habitats. It’s through our collective efforts to revitalize urban landscapes that positive change is made. Together we make our city a healthier place, for ourselves and for wildlife.  Join us and make your space a wildlife friendly zone.

Eco- Wild Habitat Certification Requirements:

The Washington Park Zoo garden certification’s program has no fees and our goal is to confirm your commitment, by ensuring that your habitat includes the essential safe haven elements: 

You must have the intent to keep the garden maintained for at least one year.

Applicants must pledge to the following wildlife-friendly practices:

  • Keep invasive, exotic plants under control.
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  • Minimize use of motorized landscaping equipment.
  • Keep their own domestic cats indoors and do not feed outdoor cats.
  • Decrease any bird hazards posed by reflective glass, outdoor lighting, and inappropriate feeder or nest box placement.

The ultimate reward will be shown in the short amount of time when a habitat garden will be filled with life, activity and color of bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife!


Eco-Wild Habitat Certification Benefits:

When you certify a space as a garden for wildlife, they receive the following benefits!

  • Personalized certificate
  • A one-year membership in our Washington Park Zoo Eco-Wild Club
  • A special invitation to an interactive “Education for Conservation” chat with up-close meet and greets with some of U.S. native animal ambassadors. (session will be held every September)

Attracting wildlife to the backyard is easy by providing what they need:

Habitat is made up of four factors: 1) food, 2) water, 3) shelter, and 4) space. Each factor is essential for a good habitat and varies somewhat by the species of wildlife and the season. To ensure the greatest variety of wildlife species, provide a yard with the largest variety of food, shelter, and cover by providing different types of plants, feeders, and houses.


Food - Encourage a natural diversity of wildlife to ensure a healthy ecosystem. Best practices: Use natural food sources; native fruiting trees and shrubs best meet the needs of migrating birds. Approximately 80 different species of blooming perennials, trees and shrubs offer nectar, pollen, berries, nuts and seeds as a food source pollinators and other for wildlife. More than 50 percent of these plants are native to North America and Indiana specifically. Many of the insects these plants support are also a food source for birds.

Maintaining bird feeders is an option: too many feeders creates competition, and spilled food attracts rodents. Do not feed animals directly or provide them with human food.  (at least 2)


Water - Nearby pools provide wildlife with water for drinking and bathing, and a showcase water feature is being planned as a focal point within the garden.  ( at least 1)

insect house.jpg

Shelter- Provide shelter from weather and predators. The best shelters are naturally occurring. Best practice: Avoid creating wood piles with brush and branches, as this has the potential to introduce nuisance species. Examples include: berries, fruits, nuts, nectar, seeds, (natural seeds, nuts, acorns), pollen, foliage/twig. Trees and shrubs such as elderberry, maple, hawthorn, and juniper provide wildlife with shelter from the elements and concealment from predators. Grasses and perennials are clustered to provide additional cover. (at least 2)


Places to Raise Young - Encourage courtship behavior and mating, as well as bearing and raising young. Best practices: As with all habitat elements, naturally occurring features are best. The garden includes host plants for the caterpillars of butterflies and moths. Without host plants, these pollinators can’t complete their life cycle. Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), is a host plant for monarch butterfly caterpillars and Gambel oak (Quercus gambelli) support the caterpillars of state. Trees and shrubs also provide nesting places for birds and bat houses placed around the zoo offers a home to local bats.  (at least 2)


Sustainability - We care about more than creating habitat ~ we care deeply about how we create habitat. How you manage your garden or landscape can have an effect on the health of the soil, air, water, and habitat for wildlife ~ as well as for people. When a garden is designed to represent plantings from the local ecosystems: The chosen plants are adapted to these ecosystems so they thrive soils and moisture conditions, which means they won't require supplemental watering or chemicals to thrive.

Options include:

Soil and Water Conservation, such as:

  • Limit water use
  • Collect rain water
  • Rain garden
  • Drip or soaker hose for irrigation
  • Mulch or ground cover to retain soil moisture

Controlling Exotic Species, such as:

  • Keep cats indoors
  • Use native plants

Organic Practices, such as:

  • Eliminate chemical pesticides
  • Eliminate chemical fertilizers
  • Create compost pile

(at least 2)

bird bath


Have you been to your zoo lately? For over 80 years, our small zoo has played a unique role in connecting people to the natural world.  We’re the only place in community where you can hear the roar of a lion or stand inches away from an otter family swimming in their underwater home. Our goal is to inspire people to protect the natural world for future generations by creating engaging experiences that connect wildlife. Whether it’s a family outing or a school field trip, our Zoo provides a welcoming environment where people of all ages can enjoy themselves and learn about the incredible animals that we share our planet with.  In 2016, we again had record attendance with more than 85,000 visitors enjoying all that our Zoos has to offer.

For those looking for an educational experience, the Washington Park is an amazing outdoor classroom where students can think outside the box by exploring the lakefront, gardens and the zoo. Visitors of all ages have the opportunity to make personal connections to the history of the community, as well as create lasting memories. 

Over the last few years, the Zoo has focused on creating more enriching habitats for the animals where they can demonstrate natural behaviors, such as food foraging and social living. Our education staff is also trying to help visitors make an up close connection to the animals, by present daily Keeper Talks with opportunities to meet some of the animals.  Two of the guest favorites seem to be Lola, a small two-foot long Alligator and Tucker, our male Three Banded Armadillo.  We hope that these experiences and so many others position the Zoo to inspire others to explore nature through discovery, play, education, and imagination. 

Throughout the year the zoo also offers educational outreach presentations for students of all ages – from toddlers to school-aged children, college students and casual learners. A Zoo to You program immerses the audience in hands-on discovery and interactive learning through live animal encounters, biofacts and environmental themed programming.

Are curious on how you can get involved with the Zoo and make a difference?

Purchase a Zoo Membership: There are many ways to “Do the Zoo”, but the best way is as a member! Our annual Zoo pass allows members to come and go as often as they like. Members receive exclusive discounts, such as free or discounted admission to special events, invitations to special member-only events and discounted admissions at other zoo who reciprocal with our passes.

 Adopt an Animal: This is a fun and unique way to support the Zoo’s conservation efforts and create a special bond with one of your favorite Zoo animals. As part of the adoption program you will receive a certificate of adoption, special photo and fact sheet about your animal and your name displayed by the animal exhibit for a whole year.

Host an Event: The Zoo offers a natural, serene escape for special gatherings, and is a great place for birthday parties and corporate outings. Our staff will assist you in making your meeting or outing spectacular and memorable.

Volunteer: Zoo volunteers give their time and talents for many reasons, but primary is their love for the institution and a respect for our mission. We treasure our volunteers for their above and beyond commitment and service.

Attend a Fundraiser: Proceeds from Zoo events support animal care, education programs and conservation efforts. From Zoo Brew to Zoo-B-Que to Boo at the Zoo, we are certain to have an event you will love.

Support the Zoo: Consider participating as a corporate sponsor, naming the Zoo in your estate or making an immediate impact to animal care, education and conservation through a gift to the Zoo Society. Your charitable gift helps us care for the animals, make improvements, offer education programs and take part in community conservation efforts.

The Washington Park Zoo will open for the 2017 season on April 1st, but for information please visit our website at, Facebook or call us at 219.873.1510.