The first origins of the Washington Park Zoo date to 1925. A retired animal trainer relocated his pet brown bear Jake to a makeshift zoo near the lakefront in Michigan City. Over the years, the Michigan City Fire Department provided other animals for this unoffical.zoo.
In 1927, Michigan City Manager Albert Coudin, Max Gloye, and Westley Kibby began planning for the creation of a Zoological Park in the Washington Park area. In 1928, the city manager appointed the first zoo board.
The makeshift zoo was moved from the lakefront to to the same dunes East of the lake. The board began by building new cages, pens and walkways.