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New entrance and lots more for zoo’s 90th anniversary celebration

May 25, 2018 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY — When the Washington Park Zoo officially opened for its 90th season, visitors immediately noticed the newly renovated entrance. And there will be a lot more to notice through the 90th anniversary season.

To mark the significant milestone, a variety of deals, special activities, and giveaways are being offered for what is being called the “season of celebration” from May through August.

Beginning Sunday and running through Aug. 25, the 90th paid visitor or member to enter the zoo each day will be chosen by the “Prize Patrol” to receive a giveaway, such as free Safari Train tickets, concession items or a special gift from the Treetop Gift Shop.

The official anniversary party will be June 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The zoo will celebrate with special activities, along with treats and goodies for the animals and the visitors.

You are also invited to follow the zoo on Facebook to be eligible for special contests and give-aways, including special “zoo-venirs” and family passes to special events like Zoo-B-Que or Zoo Boo!

Throughout the summer season, the zoo will be welcoming local businesses or clubs who want to join the celebration by being a promoter for a “Sponsor Saturday.” This can could include product or coupon giveaways, activity booths, mascot visits or anything else. Interested businesses or organization should contact us for more details.

Transition Equestrian Center of La Porte will be the first sponsorship partner. On Saturday, they will be handing out coupons and rubber horse “duckies” to the first 100 kids who visit the zoo.

The Washington Park Zoo’s long history started in 1925 when a retired animal trainer moved his brown bear “Jake” to the lakefront park so people could keep the animal company. The response was overwhelming and soon other misplaced animals and birds were brought in to add to the menagerie.

In 1928, the zoo was moved to its present location and the Zoo Board began building new cages, pen, and walkways, solely with volunteer labor and materials that were donated, scrounged, borrowed and recycled.

Under President Roosevelt, some zoos throughout the state were improved by WPA projects, but it is believed Washington Park Zoo is the only zoo in Indiana completely designed and landscaped by the program. The zoo and surrounding Washington Park have the most comprehensive collection of WPA-designed and built leisure facilities for the public in Indiana.

In 2017, the zoo had a record attendance of over 100,000 visitors. And administrators and volunteers are hoping for an even bigger attendance during the 90th anniversary season.