The most bang for your buck locally. The kids always enjoyed coming here. They make an effort to always bring in new animals. The place is clean, and the staff is friendly. THe animals are active and entertaining. A boon to the area,
Only complaint is that it is hemmed in by the railroad line, and cannot really expand.
We just moved to the area from St. Louis, and read the reviews. WOW. This is not a "piss poor" zoo; it was wonderful! My husband and I both travel quite frequently, and have been to many zoos in the US and abroad. This zoo is a hidden gem. No, it's not as big as the ones in Chicago or NYC. BUT, it's great for kids and the staff is amazing! We will be back!
First off, a comparison:
Lincoln Park - admission Free fewer animals, more stores 2 hours and 1/2 tank of gas away from South Bend. Train ride that is a tractor that goes in a circle for two minutes.
Brookfield Zoo: $58 for one adult, two children (extra $4.00 a person for the Bus ride around the park and the awful 'Children's Zoo') 2 hours and 1/2 a tank of gas away.
Potawatomie Zoo was $24 for one senior citizen, one adult and two children. The train ride was $2.00 a person. All other attractions were free. Food is expensive, sure, they use the proceeds to help pay for the zoo. All zoos do this. However, you are allowed to bring a picnic and if you can come and go all day (ask, they will stamp your hand). Plus there is a HUGE playground right outside of the Zoo and it's free as well.
I see the most complaints in the reviews about the lack of large animals - like elephants and giraffes, the petting zoo having only goats, the train ride being short and the zoo looking torn up.
I'm assuming since these reviews were from 2009 they were referring to construction that has been finished. The zoo is nice and clean and is not torn up. All exhibits are open and the animals are present and viewable. I'm amazed at how far the zoo has come since the 70's and 80's in terms of cleanliness, animal care and exhibit design.
The children's zoo had goats. Actually four, and the kids could brush them.There was also an alpaca and ponies. I'm not sure what all people expect out of a little petting zoo designed to look like a farm. Of course there will be farm animals. I was at Brookfield zoo yesterday and the Children's zoo was awful. It was run down, there was a goat that the kids could pet, everything else was in a cage.
The animal exhibits are right on par with what you'd expect from a small city zoo - and South Bend is a small city. We cannot afford to house large animals or have large exhibits like Tropic World at Brookfield, nor can we support dolphins. I'm wondering just exactly who these folks are who think that a city of less that 100,000 and shrinking could afford any of these animals? As it is we are lucky we have this zoo and the folks who work so hard every day taking care of these lovely creatures. The exhibits are well laid out, my five-year-old son was able to see the animals without me having to lift him over the barrier to see (another complaint I have about Brookfield - which is a wonderful zoo)
He loved the Red Pandas, the Old World Monkey exhibit, spent at least 20 minutes talking and laughing with the Macaw, he loved the otters - we somehow missed the Zebras and were there for over two hours. Other exhibits they liked were the bats, the alligator, the prairie dogs and the big cats, the wallabies and yes, they liked the Koi pond as well.
The train ride is short. Yes. But it's a train and little kids who like trains will like this. Just for some comparison - Brookfield doesn't have a train and Lincoln Park's train is a tractor that drives in circles for a minute or so. If you want real steam locomotives and a longer ride through the woods - got to the Hesston Steam Museum in Hesston IN.
What I would like to see in the future - bigger enclosure for the snow leopard and more room for the alligator.
In short, which this review wasn't, it IS worth the money - there are over 4000 animals. It is clean and well kept. The animals are easy for even small children to see. It took us two hours and we still didn't see everything. But then again, we stopped and really looked at each exhibit, rather than run around complaining about the lack of elephants or dolphins.
Yes, while this zoo is small, it does have a lot of animals, maybe not the ones that are widely associated with the bigger zoos, but kids love animals, and I loved taking my daughter to show her. And yes I think that it is a great zoo for small children. And no I am not lazy! By the time we got around to the last set of animals my daughter was falling asleep! She had so much fun, while I would love for her to see the bigger animals, I will wait till she is a little older! I grew up in the Indianapolis area, and even lived in Cincinnati for awhile as a child, both are wonderful and BIG zoos, but I really enjoyed this zoo, it's perfect for taking the kids somewhere on a nice day, without being out a lot of money, and not taking an entire day! Plus there is a park on the outside for the kids to play!
I love all zoos, yes the Potawatomi Zoo is smller then others. Irt has so many different aniamls that other zoos do not have. Also we are improving the zoo at times to make it better for the public. I people there work very hard and you can't see what an awesome job has been done behind the scenes. I love the new otters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A lot of information found on this zoo within the reviews is very exaggerated. The zoo is landlocked so they can only do so much with the space they have. Additionally they receive very little funding from the city so they have to work with limited resources. While they lack many of the fauna that people associate with zoos (eg. elephants, rhinos, giraffes, hippos) they do have many endangered species from around the world that tend to not be exhibited as strongly else where. Big cats is one main focus of the types of the animals the zoo exhibits. The petting zoo consists of a horse, 4 alpacas, 8 goats, a barn owl and 3 ponies for pony rides. The train ride is somewhat lackluster but many do enjoy it because the train driver gives a speech on various animal facts on animals within the zoo.
The zoo did receive a grant of 1.4 million a couple years ago. Most people do not realize that this grant had no bearing on aesthetically improving the zoo. The grant was used by the zoo to improve many fundamental functions of holding areas and maintenance to help the zoo maintain its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The accreditation goes a long way to helping the zoo maintain its mission and being able to work with the Species Survival Plan to acquire and breed many different kinds of animals.
As far as aesthetically improving the zoo, the focus is now moving in this direction. Money is being consistently set aside to work on this project to enhance the experience for zoo guests. Many improvements can be expected over the next few years.
Many need to realize that this place will never improve unless it is resoundingly supported by the population of the city of South Bend and the surrounding areas. Those who object to the value of this zoo need to realize that the effects will be felt by the zoo and city as a whole.
For a somewhat small town this Zoo is great! It's my favorite plcae to take out-of-town family & friends when they visit. It's yearly "Zoo Boo" is a great Halloween tradition for my kids. The new butterfly house is a must see.
This zoo is just horrendous, the exbits are always under renovation, or the animals are absent. I live here my whloe life and never enjoyed visiting. My kids and i went this summer and they are 4,5, 2 and they seemed to like the Koi fish more than anyhting. The train rides are not worth it, they only go half way around the zoo, the food is frozen hamburgers with an expensive price added. The petting zoo part is ashamful 1 horse, 1 goat, couple chickens. This zoo potrays an run down farm that needs alot of work. Brookfield zoo in (Chicago) is unbelieveable. I can honestly say that it is worth the drive, and pay. The Indianapolis zoo is also awesome, earlier this year my kids were so impressed with elephants, polar bears, giraffes, komodo dragons, penguins, gorrillas, dolphins, rhinos,and many more.None of these animals are at potawatomi zoo. Its a waste of time to visit potawatomi, save your money for something more worth your while. Another thing people say its the perfect size for little kids, well thats strecthed the chicago zoo is three time bigger than this zoo and my kids couldn;t wait to get to the next animal, neveve complaining about the size of the zoo. I think thats an excuse for the lazy parents that are out of shape and don't care about stimulating their childs mind about otheer animals. If your kids are behave and curious they'll enjoy the bigger zoo's also, don't let the size of a zoo to deter you away from the more beautiful, animal filled zoo's.
After reading the poor reviews, we almost didn't go to the zoo. We went last week and enjoyed our visit. Although we've certainly been to larger zoos with more animals, this was fine for younger children and they loved the adjoining playground. The zoo staff was friendly and the zoo had many beautiful flowers. There was enough variety of animals to entertain the kids, although we did miss a couple of our favorites. All in all, it was a good visit.
The Potawatomi Zoo was recently awarded a grant from the city of over a million dollars, and the only renovations they can make are a small bridge crossing over the Australian exhibit, and building a brick wall around the area where the chimps USED to be? Oh, come on, where did all the money REALLY go? I wonder, hmm....... If there is any left, after spending it all on a little bridge and a few bricks, will anyone ever spend it on any GOOD renovations? This place looks just like a cheap little park. You'd do just about the same to go to any park anywhere and watch the wildlife and nature without having to bleed the desperately, and rapidly decaying city of South Bend out of more money for more special interest projects and places that don't really benefit the majority of the population.
The zoo is ok, I'm not trying to be mean or anything, but the other reviewers are right, there just isn't much to this zoo. I don't get what the city is doing here... maybe they left the million + dollars in the wrong decision making hands... maybe they need someone else to be in charge of renovations, someone who knows what they're doing. I hope someone fixes the place up properly with their financial grant soon, and I hope some good management and reasoning comes to help the rest of this city out soon, before it turns into another Elkhart, or even worse.
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