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Potawatomi Zoo

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The Potawatomi Zoo began as a modest duck pond in Leeper Park in the spring of 1902. Originally called the South Bend Zoo, it is the oldest zoo in Indiana. The venue saw minimal growth and the location was changed in 1912 when a herd of deer were moved to Potawatomi Park. The new zoo was based out of a house on Wall Street, which had been used by the Anti-Tuberculosis League to house TB patients

In 1917 buffalo were placed in a quarter acre yard within Potawatomi Park. The zoo was expanded to 10 acres in 1927. In 1936, the Work Progress Administration built the zoo's first permanent structure which was the Cat House. This building still stands today and is known as the WPA building and currently houses one species of leopard. A pair of male oxen was purchased in 1937, from the Chicago stockyards, and was used to clear trees in the park.

The animal report for 1947 showed four black bears, one polar bear, two African lions, five bison, 3 fallow deer, seven sika deer, nine elk, four guanacos, three dwarf zebu, eight Barbary sheep, three caracal sheep, one African wild ass, two oxen, four domestic goats, eight raccoons, two peacocks, and four rhesus monkeys displayed at the zoo.

In 1949 a farm barn, 25 feet wide 20 feet long and two stories high, was built for the domesticated animals. In 1950, approval was given for a small bird and animal shelter to be erected at the park at a cost of approximately $500.00

The year 1963 saw the birth of a capuchin monkey at the zoo, this was the first South American primate to be born at the zoo. During 1965 vandals stole "Toro", the zoo ocelot, who was later found by city police in the trunk of a car. This incident made national news when it was reported by Paul Harvey on his newscast.

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Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Mon10:00 AM5:00 PM
Tue10:00 AM5:00 PM
Wed10:00 AM5:00 PM
Thr10:00 AM5:00 PM
Fri10:00 AM5:00 PM
Sat10:00 AM5:00 PM
Sun10:00 AM5:00 PM
Notes: Last admission sold is ½ hour before closing. Potawatomi Zoo is closed for the season. We will re-open March 27, 2013.


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