Close Encounters at the Indianapolis Zoo

Joey Amato | August 26, 2020

It was a hot summer afternoon in Indianapolis, but I did not care. It was a perfect day to visit the Indianapolis Zoo. I was excited to see Tembo Camp as well as the new sloth encounter. I got to preview the sloth habitat when it first opened at the zoo a few years ago, however this experience was going to be different. I would actually have the opportunity to get up close with these amazing animals.

On my way to Tembo Camp, I walked by the giraffe habitat where guests can feed the beautiful animals. Zoo staff talk about how they care for the giraffes as well as what they like to eat. Guests can purchase individual tickets for $3 or get an all-day ride/feed pass (Total Adventure Package) for $12. Viewing at the giraffe platform is free for everyone, though the feedings are scheduled at designated times.

Tembo Camp is one of the newest habitats now open at the Indianapolis Zoo. At Tembo Camp, guests can experience the majesty and power of African elephants. Tembo means elephant in the Swahili language, and the expansion — the largest change in the Zoo’s Plains area since 2002 — gives the Zoo’s herd room to roam from their current yard through a long walking trail to a new space where visitors can see firsthand how the elephants are cared for.

At Tembo Camp, guests can get up close, touch an elephant and watch demonstrations that show the incredible care the herd receives. Plus, a new special experience will also allow guests to reserve a time to help bathe an elephant, which will provide participants with a new appreciation for these gentle giants.

What I was most excited about was the new Sloth Encounter. Guests will learn about one of the Zoo’s sloths and will have an opportunity to feed the sloth. This program is for up to four people. All participants must be at least 6 years old and children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on the finances of most organizations, but while many can either shut operations or furlough employees, a zoo can’t as the health and wellbeing of their animal population depend on the staff. The Indianapolis Zoo’s Animal Amigo program helps care for all of the animals at the Zoo by funding food, medical treatment, equipment, enrichment toys, and habitat improvement for the animals in our care. For a donation of $100 or more, you can sponsor an animal at the Indianapolis Zoo. Donors will receive a plush, collector card, certificate, and recognition on the Animal Amigo donor board.