2000s in Pictures
In 2001, a new tradition was launched: the Zoo to You TV show. Each Saturday morning, the show takes visitors behind the scenes at the zoo to see how the animals are cared for. The show gained instant popularity with zoo fans all over northeast Indiana.
In 2002, the 30-year-old sea lion exhibit was demolished and replaced with the state-of-the-art Sea Lion Beach exhibit. Daily behavioral training sessions are one of the zoo’s most popular attractions.
To keep up with the many projects in the works, the zoo hired a full-time Development Director. An annual gala fundraiser, called Zoobilee, as well as sponsorship opportunities and corporate partnerships, help provide funding and support for the zoo’s growth.
A Tasmanian devil named Coolah helped the zoo gain international fame in 2004. Coolah was the last Tasmanian devil in the world residing outside of Australia. When Coolah died in 2004, zoos and devil fans from around the world expressed their condolences.
Sharks, Rays, and Jellyfish were a highlight of 2004. This new exhibit included two new tanks for jellyfish and a 50,000-gallon aquarium for black-tipped sharks. The sharks shared top billing with three Sumatran tiger cubs born on April 22. That same year, the zoo was named one of the “Top Ten Zoos for Kids” by Child magazine.
In September 2006, the zoo announced plans for its most ambitious project to date: A complete renovation of the 30- year-old African Veldt. The new exhibit, called the African Journey, includes African lions, hyenas, mongoose, and many other species never before exhibited at the zoo. The first phase of the exhibit, the Sky, Safari, opened in spring 2007. The Sky Safari replaced the popular zebra-striped Safari Ride as an important revenue source for the zoo.
The African Journey’s grand opening in 2009 brought unprecedented publicity to the zoo. Parents magazine named the zoo one of the nation’s “Top Ten Zoos for Kids.” More than 613,000 people visited the zoo in 2009, far outpacing the previous record of 540,000 guests in 1994. Bill the lion, the giraffe feeding station, and a set of African drums quickly became visitor favorites in the African Journey.