Indy Treasures: Zoo’Opolis

Off of 65 South in the middle of nowhere between Columbus and Gnaw Bone, Indiana lies Zoo’Opolis, an interactive petting zoo unlike any other.

Three years ago when the owner, Kathleen Bowen’s husband got dementia, she decided to stay at home and help him, and to make money they decided to start a petting zoo. They started with regular petting farm animals — a pony, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens. But a year ago when an adviser told her that she would make more money and could make a better living if she got exotic animals, she knew that doing this would be more challenging and cost a lot more upfront, but was excited and decided to do it.

Now they have over one hundred animals and forty unique different spices including animals such as peacocks, chinchillas, rabbits, cockatoos, foxes, coatimundis, a wolf and even a zebra. Visitors can come to their five acres of land to pet, play and feed most of the animals that they have. There is nothing keeping visitors from the animals, as anyone can go into the enclosures to be and play with them.

Going in, all I heard was the sounds of animals of all kinds. There are many different exhibits and habitats hosting the unique animals that don’t normally live in Indiana. Animals such as coatimundis, crab eating racoons and skunks are temporarily in the same exhibit together. The coatimundis and racoons will come up to visitors, however a coatimundis climbed up my body and stuck his nose in my ear and would grab anything that was shiny.

Aside from their original location, you can also find and experience Zoo’Opolis at one of there many events. They frequently partake in many fundraiser opportunities as well as fundraisers for themselves. Not only that, but you can rent out the place for special events like birthday parties and weddings. They are open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. however, the best days to go are on the days that are the least busy, which are Wednesdays and Thursdays. Although they aren’t typically busy on these days, it’s always best to call and make a reservation just incase.

While it costs $33 for ages 16 and older to experience Zoo’Opolis, and $22 for ages three to 15, the prices at Zoo’Opolis’ still offer a better deal than the Indianapolis Zoo. The Indianapolis Zoo costs $32.20 for ages 13 and older for the total adventure package, all-access to the entire zoo, as well as rides and animal feeds. But also offers the standard admission to the zoo, which includes access to the aquarium, gardens and dolphin show for $20.20. Though the Indianapolis Zoo is a great experience, Zoo’Opolis is much better in terms of family events, hangouts, birthdays, and even dates. Unlike the Indianapolis Zoo, Zoo’Opolis is more personal, as not many people work there, and you can actually just go in and hang out up close and personal with the animals.

In the future, Zoo’Opolis plans to get more animals to add to their exhibits, such as a kinkajou and a sloth. They are also building four new outdoor exhibits for the new and existing animals in order to ensure them more space. They are also working on internships with Ivy tech for Vet techs, agriculturalists, construction, and artists. They are also anticipating the coming Senior Projects.

I love Zoo’Opolis and would highly recommend to anyone wanting to stay away from the normal zoo. This place is not normal at all and should not be looked at like that. It’s a place that anyone can love and cherish animals of all kinds. It’s a place where you don’t have to go relatively that far to be with a bird from Africa or a deer from China. A place where anyone can and should go.