12 Unique Animal Encounters in Central Indiana

Most children love animals: Their wet noses, soft fur, and sometimes silly antics can provide hours of fun and education. It’s fun to see animals in real life, and fortunately for us Hoosiers, we have many opportunities to encounter animals up close. Many of the animal encounters across Indiana are a part of conservation efforts, and not only can families learn more about wild animals, farm animals and pets, they can enjoy the time together in an afternoon of furry (or scaly) fun. 

Oinking Acres

Brownsburg, IN 

This farm and rescue sanctuary has a mission to help as many animals as possible find suitable homes, and provides sanctuary for those that are not adoptable. Primarily a pig farm, guests at Oinking Acres can also spend time with ducks, goats and other small farm animals. Tours can be scheduled online. Feel free to bring produce, such as cucumbers, carrots and apples to make a pot-bellied pig your new friend.

 Oinking Acres Brownsburg, IN 

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary

Albion, IN 

If you’re up for a day trip to northern Indiana, check out Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, which houses large cats, bears, monkeys, reptiles, birds and more. Register online for a day visit and tour the 18-acre sanctuary. Black Pine offers feeding tours, educational tours and private tours. 

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary | Facebook

Natural Valley Ranch

Brownsburg, IN

Natural Valley Ranch in Brownsburg is a gem. The 78-acre ranch that runs along White Lick Creek is the biggest ranch in Hendricks County for horseback riding. The petting zoo includes a variety of farm and domestic animals, such as miniature goats, chickens, miniature horses, rabbits, sheep, pigs, cats and dogs. The ranch welcomes snacks for the animals: stale bread, stale cookies, fruits and vegetables that are a few days ripe are favorites. 

Natural Valley Ranch

Indianapolis Zoo

Indianapolis, IN 

At the Indianapolis Zoo offers several animal encounters for ages 6 and older, that go above and beyond your typical trip to the zoo.

  • Sloth Adventure: The zoo’s Sloth Adventure allows you to experience these gentle creatures up-close, and have an opportunity to feed the sloths.
  • Dolphin Meet & Greet: Go behind the scenes at the zoo’s Dolphin Presentation for a meet-and-greet with dolphins
  • Elephant Bathing Experience: Scrub down one of the zoo’s African elephants during a Bathing Experience, and learn what it takes to care for these amazing animals.
  • Kangaroo Crossing: The Indianapolis Zoo brand new Kangaroo exhibit opened on June 18. 

For art lovers, the Animal Art Adventures program allows groups of four to watch elephants, dolphins, penguins, rhinos, walrus, lemurs and orangutans create a custom masterpiece as a souvenir. 

Indianapolis Zoo

Heritage Farm

Flora, IN 

Looking for a unique, educational, and cost-effective getaway? Heritage Farm in Flora, Indiana — about one hour north of Indianapolis — offers families an experience they won’t soon forget. 

Heritage Farm is a working alpaca farm with more than 50 alpacas you can see, touch and interact with. Visitors can book an overnight stay at the 120-acre farm in one of the several different lodging options, or just visit for the day. Owners Tim and Beth Sheets have made it their goal to educate the community about the joys of farming and alpaca care. 


Heritage Farm
Courtesy of Heritage Farm

Little Eagle Creek Valley Farm

Zionsville, IN 

At the right time of year, visitors can catch a glimpse of sheep shearing as Little Eagle Creek Valley Farm prepares to harvest wool for Always in Stitches, a local business. At other times, catch more than 30 sheep, two miniature horses, two llamas and chickens in their natural habitat. Regular tours are not currently available, but guests are invited to observe farm life. 

Nine Lives Cat Cafe

Indianapolis, IN

Sit, sip, and watch cats do their thing at Nine Lives Cat Cafe, located in Fountain Square.. Part cat rescue, part cafe, Nine Lives allows visitors to interact with their adoptable cats in a comfy, cat-friendly space.

Conner Prairie

Fishers, IN

Step inside Conner Prairie’s barn and meet some of the farm’s animals up close. Animals roam freely in the barn, allowing visitors to get a closer look and even pet the animals.

Wilstem Wildlife Park

Paoli, IN

View more than 50 animals during Wilstem Wildlife Park‘s drive-thru safari experience, where you can greet animals from the comfort of your vehicle. Or get up-close to elephants, sloths, giraffes, kangaroos and grizzly bears during one of the animal encounters that the park offers. 

Wilstem Wildlife Park
Wilstem Wildlife Park

Wolf Park

Lafayette, IN 

Just outside Lafayette in Battle Ground, Wolf Park sits on 78 acres and is home to wolves, foxes, bison and one lovable Dutch rabbit named Sodapop. Stop by for a guided tour, where you can learn more about the animals.

2 Wolves in Indiana's Wolf Park

The Smitten Kitten Cat Café 

Fisher, IN

The Smitten Kitten Cat Café is Hamilton County’s first cat Café and opened its doors on January 28. The cafe’s mission is to reduce the number of abandoned and homeless cats in the community. The cat lounge is a safe, cage-free environment for adoptable cats and visitors to interact.

The Exotic Feline Rescue Center

Center Point, IN

The Exotic Feline Rescue Center (EFRC) invites visitors to explore the captivating world of its furry inhabitants. The center offers daily tours that last about an hour. This provides a unique opportunity for guests to learn about the rescue efforts and inspiring stories of these mighty creatures. From privately owned “pets” to retired circus animals, the range of big cats now residing at EFRC have found a permanent home and safe haven to live their lives in peace and harmony.

The Exotic Feline Rescue Center: A Must-Visit Destination for Wildlife Lovers



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