Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
|Date opened||July 3, 1965|
|Location||3411 Sherman Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States|
|Land area||38 acres (15 ha)|
|Number of animals||1,500|
|Number of species||56 |
|Major exhibits||African Journey, African Lion Exhibit, African Village, Zebra Researcher's Camp, Australian Adventure, Australia After Dark, Sharks, Rays, and Jellyfish Exhibit, Central Zoo, Sea Lion Beach, Indiana Family Farm, Indonesian Rainforest, Orangutan Valley, Tiger Forest, Jungle Domeaviary.|
The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo (FWCZ) is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States. The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo was founded by Earl B. Wells. Since opening in 1965, the 1,500 animal zoo has been located on 38 acres (15 ha) in Fort Wayne's Franke Park. The zoo continuously ranks among the top zoos in the nation, recently ranked as the ninth best zoo in America by Child magazine in 2004 and fifth best zoo in the nation by Parents magazine in 2009.
The FWCZ can trace its origins to 1952 when 54 acres (22 ha) were added to Franke Park in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to establish a nature preserve. Local popularity of the preserve led to Fort Wayne officials deciding to build a full-fledged zoo by 1962. The new zoo was to target educating children about animals.
On July 3, 1965, the new Fort Wayne Children's Zoo opened on 5.5 acres (2.2 ha) with 18 animal exhibits. In 1976, a major expansion of the zoo was the African Veldt attraction, where savannah animals grazed in open fields east of the Central Zoo. In the late-1980s, the Australian Adventure premiered, showcasing animals from the Outback. A domed Indonesian Rainforest exhibit opened in 1995, with an enclosed tiger forest exhibit launching a year later.
On May 18, 2004, 7.5-year-old "Coolah," the last remaining Tasmanian devil to live outside of Australia, died from complications of inoperable cancer. Coolah had drawn international attention to the zoo once Australia banned the export of Tasmanian devils after the species became endangered. Over the years, FWCZ was the home for 12 Tasmanian devils, the most of any zoo in the United States. Later that year, on October 19, 2004, five wildebeests broke through a gate and jumped a fence, roaming the streets of a nearby neighborhood. Eventually, the wildebeests were captured, though two of the five suffered broken legs and were forced to be euthanized. The zoo was fined $825 for the incident.
On November 2, 2007, artificial rocks made of styrofoam caught fire in the zoo's new African Journey expansion, the largest project in the zoo's 42-year history. The fire happened where workers were constructing an African lion exhibit, the centerpiece of the new expansion. Thick black plumes of smoke billowing from the site of the fire were clearly visible across the skies of Fort Wayne and much of the region. No workers or animals were harmed in the blaze.
The zoo consists of four self-contained biomes themed as different regions of the world.
The African Journey opened to the public June 6, 2009 on the former site of the African Veldt. The $9 million African Journey is currently the largest expansion in the FWCZ's history, featuring an African Lion exhibit, African Village, interactive cultural center, giraffe feeding area, Savannah Trail, zebras and wildebeests, new animal exhibits (mongoose, buzzards, dik diks and hyenas, honey badgers, bat-eared foxes, pelicans, servals), and a group educational and picnic area. The new Sky Safari, a ski lift-like ride, gives riders an aerial view of the Serengeti-based landscape.
The Australian Adventure area opens with the Australia After Dark exhibit, featuring nocturnal animals native to Australia such as bats, echidnas, and owls. A separate building holds a 20,000-gallon aquarium containing the Sharks, Rays, and Jellyfish Exhibit, as well as a model coral reef with tropical fish. In the Kangaroo Walkabout, a roped path leads through an open area of kangaroos, which may cross the path at their leisure. The dingo exhibit holds a mating pair and produced and housed a new litter of dingo pups in 2012. An aviary features birds native to Australia. There are other assorted exhibits, and a Dugout Canoe Ride where you can view the Australian Adventure from a canal.
The Central Zoo includes assorted animals from the Americas and a few from other regions, including sea lions, Ring-tailed lemurs, African penguins, wallabys, tortoises, alligators and macaws. Sea Lion Beach is a major attraction, and scheduled feeding performances occur periodically throughout the day. Monkey Island contains a family of Capuchin monkeys. Peacocks roam freely throughout the zoo. Also located in the Central Zoo are a duckpond and small aviary.
The recently added Indiana Family Farm expands from the old petting zoo area, which contained only goats, chickens, and deer. Now a model barn and farmhouse, as well as signs from the point of view of children living on a farm, lend atmosphere. Horses, sheep, rabbits, calves, and others are all contained in open stalls and may be pet by visitors. Barn mice and owls can be viewed. For a long time, chicks could be handled and lifted from their enclosure, but this was stopped recently due to children mishandling them. They have been replaced with an exhibit featuring a colony of honeybees and their hive. Goats reside in an open paddock which visitors can enter, and, for a price, feed the goats pellets from ice cream cones and milk from bottles, or brush them for free. This area is considered part of the Central Zoo, and is located directly before the exit. The Wild Things Gift Shop at the exit was recently expanded.
This area also offers rides on a miniature train and pony rides.
The Indonesian Rainforest features orangutans, tigers, Komodo dragons, assorted birds, mammals, and primates, as well as a domed area (Domeaviary) containing birds, fish, reptiles, and, until recently, butterflies. The domeaviary allows visitors to experience the sights, sounds, and feel of the Indonesian Rainforest. This area also contains an Endangered Species Carousel.
- Learn About Some of Our Animals. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- Animal Index. Retrieved on 2013-05-29.
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "Magazine: Tampa zoo tops for kids". Saint Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
- Cicero, Karen, (2009-04-04). 10 Best Zoos for Kids: 5. Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. Parents magazine. Retrieved on 2009-04-11.
- (2004-05-19). Last Tasmanian devil not in Australia dies. United Press International. Retrieved on 2009-06-11.
- (2005-02-17). Zoo fined for wildebeest escapes. United Press International. Retrieved on 2009-06-11.
- (2004-10-19). Five wildebeests escape from Fort Wayne zoo. USA Today. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- (2007-11-03). Lion exhibit under construction catches fire. WTHI-TV News 10. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- Kilbane, Kevin, (2009-06-04). Zoo's African Journey: A kid's eye view. The News-Sentinel. Retrieved on 2009-06-11.
- Zoo News - African Journey Set to Open in 2009. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- Australian Adventure. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- Central Zoo. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- Wild Things Gift Shop. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- Rides. Retrieved on 2009-05-22.
- Indonesian Rainforest. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.