From petting a string ray to feeding the giraffes, there are so many reasons why the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo ranks among the top mid-sized zoos in the country and is one of the top attractions in Northeast Indiana. My children and I have visited many times over the years and as they have grown we have found new adventures and places to explore during each visit. When I asked my daughter to accompany me on this recent visit, she commented, “I never miss a chance to go to the zoo!”

Grab one of their easy to follow maps at the admissions area and get moving. There are stroller rentals if you need one and restrooms right inside the main gate in case you had a long drive. Admission to the zoo is reasonable with my admission only $14.00 and my daughter was $10. You may want to reserve additional funds for your trip so that you can get tokens for rides (2 tokens per person, $1 per token), pony rides (5 tokens) and feeding the giraffes or goats (1 token each). There are token machines throughout the park.

We always head to the right first and head straight for Monkey Island. This iconic part of the zoo has been around since I was a kid and is typically the place for some fun antics by the resident capuchin monkeys.

From there, we recommend heading through the tunnel to the African Journey area. This is one of our favorite parts of the park. Go overhead on the sky safari (tokens needed) which gives you a birds eye view of the grazing area with zebras and wildebeest.  After the ride, you can explore further on foot. There are plenty of animals to visit with on your safari including lions, storks, cranes, hyenas and an ostrich among many others. One of the best parts is watching the giraffes. Check the times for feeding and you can hand feed the giraffes leaves of lettuce. It’s a great experience for your children. It costs one token for the feeding, but well worth the smiles you will get in return.

lion-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo-indiana The lion posed majestically for us during our recent visit.

giraffe-feedlng-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo-indiana Photo Credit: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

Once you are back in the main zoo area, head to the right for the pony rides. They've been doing pony rides since it's earlier years and it's always sure to delight your kids. There are several animals tucked in this area including my favorite, the lemurs, and one has a baby and it's about the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Plan to spend a fair amount of time roaming in the Indonesian Rain Forest. You will feel like you have been transported to Indonesia. Ring the bells, tap the gong and don't be too scared by the python. The orangatans are in the main pavilion and are fascinating to watch and one of the zoo's highlights. Walk through the rain forest to get to the carousel (tokens needed). Don't be shy it's fun to ride no matter what age. Follow the boardwalk to see the tigers, langurs and the gorgeous wrinkled hornbill.

orangatan-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo-indonesian-rain-forest The orangatans are fascinating to watch.

carousel-fort -wayne-childrens-zoo Take a break and ride the carousel.

The Australian Adventure was newly renovated in three phases and phase 2 brought the addition of the Stingray Bay. This 20,000 gallon tank holds two types of sting rays that have had their venomous spines removed and are harmless to touch so guests are allowed to "pet" the stingray as they swim swiftly by. Outside, there's a log ride (tokens needed) which is fun to tour the area including floating by the kangaroos that lounge nearby. If you choose to explore by foot, there are plenty of brightly colored birds to visit with as well. Australia is home to beautiful birds and it's a real treat to see them.  On a hot day, cool off in the aquarium area - we love to see the jellyfish just as you enter the room.

kangaroo-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo-indiana The kangaroo were lounging during our visit.

stingray-bay-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo-indiana Petting the stingray was one of our favorite things to do.

The final stretch of the zoo includes the charming zoo train that runs along a large pond and near the woods (tokens needed) and the Indiana Family Farm. The farm is home to pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits and the infamous goats. The goats are in a larger pen that you can enter  - grab a brush and you the goats will hop on a stump and let you brush away. Careful, because they love to munch on shirts!

goat-brushing-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo-indiana The goats love to have their hair brushed.

Throughout the park there are plenty of places to snap a fun photo. There are also plenty of gorgeous peacocks that roam free and if you are lucky you can catch a view of their feathers in full display. It's just another fun part of the full zoo experience.

peacock-fort-wayne-childrens-zoo Peacocks roam the zoo grounds and we found this one showing off his beautiful feathers.

Last stop is the gift shop where they have plenty of items in all price ranges. The zoo is located in Franke Park so there's a playground and picnic areas nearby if you want to let the kids play before heading back home.

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is located at 3411 Sherman Boulevard in Fort Wayne. Click here for their website or Facebook. For information on area family friendly attractions, such as Science Central, and lodging check with the Visit Fort Wayne office.