Indianapolis, Ind. - The Indianapolis Zoo opened in 1964 and today it's a leader in animal conservation and research. And it's also a tradition for many of you during the holiday season!
For this week's Your Town Friday, we met with the Indianapolis Zoo's senior trainer and some penguins and sea lions for a behind-the-scenes look at Christmas at the Zoo.
More than one million people visit the Indianapolis Zoo each year.
The 64-acre Zoo is home to nearly 14 hundred animals.
They each have a story and Indianapolis Zoo Senior Trainer Lisa Oland told us sea lion Ray's story.
"He had stranded and had been very ill and when they rehabbed him, they saw he had been shot, but he was OK and he was able to be released," said Oland. "But then a short time later he stranded again and he had been shot again, but this time he lost his eye."
"When he came here he had a little bit of vision, but now he's also lost that vision," she continued. "He's completely blind, so in the wild he'd never survive, but here he's able to live a good life and he does great!"
It's insight like that you get to hear if you check out an animal feeding or chat. And you get to see things you otherwise wouldn't get to witness.
"It's really one of the only opportunities that our guests get to see how fast our penguins can swim and move through the water," said Public Relations Specialist Carla Knapp. "And the educational opportunity is such an important part of the Zoo's mission because once guests see those abilities in action, it's one of the things that helps people to want to save those animals in the wild."
The Zoo has set up special daily feedings and chats for Christmas at the Zoo.
"Because while conservation is our mission, we feel that education is also very important, so that allows us to come out and really show the animals," said Oland. "And that way when we're talking about different things with them, they can see that for themselves. So when we talk about how flexible a sea lion is, we can show that flexibility with different behaviors that we ask them to do."
You can check out the penguin feeding at 3 p.m. and the sea lion chat at 5 p.m. during the holiday season.
The Zoo opens at noon and special activities go from 5-9 p.m., with new extended hours from 5-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Christmas at the Zoo is included with regular admission and free for Zoo members.