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

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