Now that the weather has warmed and summer is ahead, one of the best ways to spend time with the family is by visiting a zoo. Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette is a perfect-sized zoo if you’re looking to spend a few hours with the animals with young kids. It’s big enough that there’s plenty to do and see but not so much that everyone is worn out from walking before you see a quarter of the grounds.

Entrance gate at Columbian Park Zoo

Opened in 1908, the zoo started with a collection of seven different animals and has grown over the decades to add buildings and exhibits and several more species. In 2004, it closed for renovations and improvements after several years of developing a grand Master Plan for the zoo. It re-opened in 2007 with a new family farm exhibit, a bald eagle exhibit, Prairie Dog Town, a sculpture garden, an interactive fountain and an entryway plaza. Several more exhibits have been added since.

Penguin Cove at Columbian Park Zoo

Today, you can stroll through the Wallaby Walkout as these cute marsupials hop around and lounge in the shade, giving you an opportunity to see them up close. At Penguin Cove you can see these cute black and white creatures waddle and dive and swim as they put on a show for you. You can watch North American River Otters make their way from land to water and watch them as they effortlessly glide by in a pool.

Wallaby Walkabout at Columbian Park Zoo

Other animals you’ll spot include a North American Porcupine, Barn Owls, Galapagos Tortoise, Emus, Laughing Kookaburra and more.


In the IU Health Family Farm, you can visit with llamas, miniature horses, goats and pot-bellied pigs. You’ll also have an opportunity to purchase feed to hand to the goats.

Bald Eagle at Columbian Park Zoo

Don’t miss out an opportunity to ride the Columbian Park Zoo Express, which takes you for a ride through the zoo for $3 per rider (children two and under are free). Pedal boats are another fun activity to enjoy while visiting the zoo. They open for the season on Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day weekend. Plans are also being worked on for adding a carousel, so be sure to follow along on social media for information on its unveiling. For more information, visit