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“Life. Style. Live!” host Randall Newsome got the chance to mix and mingle with the new mob of red kangaroos and cockatoos at the Indianapolis Zoo’s new Kangaroo Crossing exhibit.

The Zoo’s newest animals, red kangaroos, will offer a feeling of Australia right here in Indianapolis.

The new exhibit gives guests an up-close experience where they will get to interact with a variety of unique Australian species, like kangaroos and cockatoos.

Visitors walk into a large open area without fencing or other barriers. Kangaroos will roam freely in the space as stunning and unique birds fly overhead.

Lucky guests will get to pet a kangaroo. Keep in mind, the best way to approach is slowly from behind and gently pet on the back, not the face or ears.

Kangaroos are the largest land mammal native to Australia. The red kangaroo is just one of about 60 species of kangaroos and their smaller relatives (wallabies, bettongs and potoroos) found in Australia. Many of those other relative species are now threatened or extinct.

In the Zoo’s open-air habitat, guests will have a perfect opportunity to snap a selfie from just feet away from red kangaroos and cockatoos while learning about the threats these species face in the wild. 

For more information, click here.

It’s not too late to enjoy the nation’s longest-running holiday zoo lights event. The Indianapolis Zoo’s Christmas at the Zoo continues until December 30th. The event began in 1967, making this year’s edition its 53rd year.

“We have grown every year since then,” said Carla Knapp, public relations specialist with the Indianapolis Zoo as she stood by the seal enclosure on a sun-splashed Tuesday morning.

A lot of Christmas lights have been added this year throughout the zoo grounds. As always, Santa will be joined by real reindeer. Knapp points out that many of the zoo’s inhabitants are more active in the winter than they are on the hot, summer days ahead.

Visitors won’t be forced to remain in the cold. Many of the exhibits are indoors in climate-controlled perfection.

For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

Get ready for some squash-stompin’ fun as the Indianapolis Zoo hosts its post-Halloween Elephant Giant Pumpkin Smash.

Elephants from the Indianapolis Zoo stomped and ate an 850-pound pumpkin this morning! We got a peek into the fun on our show today.

Grown and donated by Steve and Kathy Strickler of Bloomington, the 850-pound giant pumpkin was on display in Pumpkin Town as part of the 40th year of ZooBoo presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers. During the recently concluded event, visitors could try to guess the weight of this sizeable squash for a chance to win an Animal Art Adventure.

For more information visit,

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — After a successful showing during the holidays, people at the Indianapolis Zoo hope everyone will pay a visit during the wintertime.

Carla Knapp, public relations specialist at the zoo, talked Tuesday with News 8 about why visitors can get a different experience by coming out to see the animals during the colder months.

“We still have lots of animals who are out at this time of year: walrus, seals and sea lions, tigers and brown bears,” she said. “These animals are all native to colder climates and so they’re going to be active in a very different way than what you would see during a summertime visit.”

Knapp says the zoo is encouraging people to continue buying tickets online during the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s very, very important for us,” she said. “We want to make sure everybody is safe and so we need everybody to go online and serve their timed entry tickets in advance online. It’s also really the best way to plan ahead for your visit to know what you can expect.”

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Patty Spitler with Pet Pals TV presented some special news from the Indianapolis Zoo during News 8 Midday on Wednesday.

Melanie Laurendine, conservation public relations specialist with the zoo, spoke to Spitler and News 8’s Alexis Rogers on the Conservation Book, the newborn giraffe, and new exhibits and hours coming in 2021.

Watch the interview to learn more.

Pet Pals TV airs at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays on WISH-TV.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Zoo is celebrating 52 years of Christmas tradition in a big way.

Santa’s Village is the newest event where hours are extended to visit Santa, including Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, where cookies and decorations will be given, along with a Tunnel of Lights for pictures to be taken.

Safety is first this year due to the pandemic. The zoo has several safety procedures to keep people safe, including social distancing guidelines and mandatory mask wearing.

Christmas at the Zoo festivities are held from 5-9 p.m. each night, until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from Nov. 21 to Dec. 30.

Everyone is required to reserve a timed-entry ticket in advance online.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — ZooBoo celebrates Halloween at the Indianapolis Zoo with lots of attractions to enjoy during the season including a live DJ, Halloween activities and, of course, a chance to interact with some of the animals.

WISH-TV is this year’s media partner and the sponsor for the Trick-or-Treat Trail. For kids, it means a chance to get in costume and get some early trick-or-treat candy at one of four treat stations. At night, the trail offers beverages for the adults.

Watch the video to check out some of the kids in costume and hear about everything visitors can look forward to at this year’s ZooBoo.

Because of capacity restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic, you have to buy tickets online.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Zoo is inviting visitors to see a new botanical exhibit.

People can check out a bonsai tree exhibit. Bonsai is a Japanese art form that dates back thousands of years. People use cultivating techniques to produce small trees that mimic the shape and scale of full-size trees.

Thanks in big part to a partnership with the Indianapolis Bonsai Club, the limited-time exhibit will feature 25 creations of 15 different species and contain trees from all over the world.

“It’s a snapshot of a nature scene that somebody has meticulously curated and detailed into a pot,” said Scott Sullivan, the zoo’s curator of horticulture.

According to zoo officials, bonsai trees have not been displayed in Indianapolis since 2009. Sullivan makes a case for visitors to experience the exhibit for themselves.

“Just showing people something unique that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere in Indianapolis,” he said.

The exhibit will run though Nov. 30 at the Indianapolis Zoo’s Hilbert Conservatory.

A bonzai tree is shown Sept. 8, 2020, in a new exhibit at the Indianapolis Zoo. (WISH Photo/Randall Newsome)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The celebration of the reopening of the Indianapolis Zoo comes with a couple of new attractions, including an experience where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the biggest animals around.

Tembo Camp lets visitors go behind the scenes with elephants and their caregivers.

“A lot of the stuff we do with the elephants is behind the scenes and here we are actually bringing the behind the scenes to you guys,” said Sabrina Paxton, senior elephant trainer.

Paxton and the other elephant trainers walk fans through the process of bathing and feeding one of the six African elephants. Visitors also get to see the different personalities of elephants. Sophie, at 52 years old, is the matriarch of the bunch.

“She’s quite an iconic individual,” Paxton said.

Paxton says people who have the chance should come to Tembo Camp to get an experience they can’t get anywhere else in the city.

“You’re not going to be able to meet (and) see an elephant this close so you guys have to come out and meet our friends,” she said.

Coronavirus links

Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through March 4, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

Zoo expansion plans

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Zoo is growing.

The zoo announced Wednesday it has acquired 26.5 acres of land from Ambrose Property Group. The land used to be home to the old General Motors stamping plant. APG donated 10 of those acres and the zoo purchased the rest.

The expansion property was recently made available after APG announced it was offloading plans to redevelop the land into a mixed-use space.

Nearly 1.2 million people visit the Indianapolis Zoo each year, according to the zoo’s public relations director, Judy Palermo.

“It’s been an issue for us being landlocked so we’ve been looking at the land across the street and hoping we can get that for decades,” said Palermo. “This deal with Ambrose we’ve been working on for about a year, two years and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities.”

The acquired land will be known as the zoo’s south lot and will be used for extra parking. It will open if the existing lot is full.

Indianapolis Zoo bringing more animals, exhibits with property expansion

Visitors are currently forced to park off site in downtown and walk to the zoo. Palermo said there will be shuttles to help transport guests to and from the south lot.

“That would be fantastic,” visitor Nicki Stemley said. “Make sure there’s plenty of parking for everybody and a nice safe place to unload your kids so you’re not having to do it on the city streets.”

However, the south lot will eventually be the main lot as the Indianapolis Zoo plans to turn the existing lot into a space with more animal attractions.

“We know that through their (visitor’s) feedback they want to know more about other animals and for us to bring more here,” said Palermo.

Makenzie Derico, a young visitor at the zoo, said she’s looking forward to the changes.

“It’s so exciting! There’s probably going to be some lions, some butterflies and probably some rabbits,” Derico said.

“I already get lost so for it to be even bigger I can’t imagine,” said Bre’Aunna Pratcher, who was visiting the zoo on Wednesday. “I can’t wait to see that; bigger and more animals that’s a great thing.”

Acquiring the additional acreage is just phase one of the zoo’s future plans.

“Two, three, five, 10 years out we’ll be working on what is the next big thing to come to the zoo, what is the next story we need to tell and saving species so we’re going to roll up our sleeves, we’re going to get in there and start working out that master plan with our board and our staff,” added Palermo.

The south lot will temporarily be used for big events, including Zoo Boo, starting Oct. 17, and Christmas at the Zoo. Developments for future parking will start in early 2020.

The City of Indianapolis wants to take back the land where the former GM stamping plant sits.

City leaders sent APG a letter on Wednesday threatening eminent domain to ensure necessary redevelopment of the 100-plus acres of land.

The city’s action against Ambrose will have no impact on the zoo’s expansion plans, officials said.