South Bend's first zoo was a modest duck pond in Leeper Park in the spring of 1902, originally called the South Bend Zoo. In 1912, the location was changed when a herd of deer was moved to Potawatomi Park. The new zoo was based out of a house on Wall Street which had been used by the Anti-Tuberculosis League to house TB patients.For Potawatomi Zoo and beyond, use our South Bend trip planner to get the most from your South Bend vacation.
The current facility and name were formalized as Potawatomi Zoo in 1921 when a single deer was donated by Albert Russell Erskine, then president of the Studebaker Corporation.
At the end of the Great Depression in 1940, the Works Progress Administration constructed the zoo's Cat House, its first permanent structure. The building still stands, and through renovations, now serves as home to Amur and snow leopards.
In 1971, the St. Joseph Zoological Society, now called Potawatomi Zoological Society, was formed, with Craig D. McCowan as its first director. In 1981, the zoo began charging admission, to provide an accurate attendance count as well as revenue.
In 2014, the Potawatomi Zoological Society and the City of South Bend entered into a partnership for the Society to run the Zoo with financial support from the City.
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Potawatomi Zoo reviews
My sister and I have been zoo regulars for years. We go several times over the season. We love the walkways, cleanly kept animals and the lunch spot! Perfect place for sisters to catch up on each...
My sister and I have been zoo regulars for years. We go several times over the season. We love the walkways, cleanly kept animals and the lunch spot! Perfect place for sisters to catch up on each... more »
This was Zoo #54 for us. It is a medium sized zoo, so plan on 1.5- 2.5 hours. This zoo had a great mix of " must see" ( Lion, Monkeys, Tiger, Otters) and Unique Animals ( Sand Cat, Ant Eater, and...
This was Zoo #54 for us. It is a medium sized zoo, so plan on 1.5- 2.5 hours. This zoo had a great mix of " must see" ( Lion, Monkeys, Tiger, Otters) and Unique Animals ( Sand Cat, Ant Eater, and... more »
Lots of exhibits currently closed, lots of renovations.
Potawatomi Zoo is always so amazing! My bf and I love going there and are so happy they're back open for the season! It's the perfect place to take your kids or spend a day with friends and family 😊❤ and now they have the giraffes which is super exciting! But their exhibit closes at 4 so be careful! We sadly didn't make it in time but we're able to peak in through the window and see them! Can't wait to go again!!!
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