Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta seeks to inspire visitors to the zoo to value the Earth's wildlife and to help preserve the various animal species through conservation. The zoo, Atlanta's oldest cultural attraction, first started with animals from a traveling circus in 1889. Zoo Atlanta has now transformed into a world class zoo focused on conservation and education, a fun place to visit with the whole family. It features animal species from across the globe, and is one of only four institutions in the United States to showcase Giant Pandas.

»The Ford African Rainforest

The Ford African Rainforest

The Ford African Rainforest is home to Zoo Atlanta's gorillas, and is still the residence of several of Willie B.'s offspring. Willie B. is the zoo's most well-known gorilla. The area also houses the giant tortoise during summer, and contains the Ford Willie B. Gorilla Conservation Center and the Living Treehouse. The Living Treehouse features ring-tailed lemurs, black-and-white ruffed lemurs, and an African bird aviary. There are also habitat exhibits showcasing Angolan colobus monkeys, Wolf's guenons, Schmidt's guenons, and drills.

African Plains

Many different species of animals from the desert and grasslands of Africa call the African Plains exhibit area home. The exhibits in African Plains include animals such as African elephants, lions, meerkats, southern ground hornbills, kori bustard, black rhino, and warthogs. A multi-species area houses zebras, lesser kudu, ostrich, and giraffes. The exhibit area also features African forest animals like eastern bongos and yellow-backed duikers.

Giant Pandas

Zoo Atlanta is one of only four institutions in the United States to feature Giant Pandas. The zoo was first home to these interesting creatures in 1999 when it received two panda, Yang Yang and Lun Lun, on loan from China. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China is now home to three of the panda pair's cubs: Mei Lan, Xi Lan, and Po. Po's name was first announced in 2011 by Jack Black. He was named after Jack Black's character in Kung Fu Panda. Two giant panda cubs still call Zoo Atlanta home, Mei Lun and Mei Huan. The twin female cubs were born in 2013.

Asian Forest

The Asian Forest exhibit area at Zoo Atlanta features sun bears, red pandas, giant pandas, bush dogs, giant otters, small-clawed otters, Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards, Reeve's muntjac, naked mole rats, Sumatran orangutans, Bornean orangutans, and Komodo dragons. The Orangutan Learning Tree Project, started in 2007, can also be found in the Asian Forest area. The project uses touch screen technology in the habitat to provide an opportunity for the orangutans to engage in computer games, puzzles, and problem solving exercises as visitors watch on monitor.

»Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience

Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience

The Scaly Slimy Spectacular, formerly the World of Reptiles, allows guests to take a climate-controlled journey through a few of the world's most iconic places in the wild. Visitors can view over 70 different species of amphibians and reptiles from around the world within state-of-the-art habitats, including snakes, tortoises, turtles, lizards, salamanders, frogs, and toads. The exhibits feature 9,700 square feet of handcrafted rockwork. Scaly Slimy Spectacular replaced the World of Reptiles in 2013 when the old building was replaced due to age. Among other snake species, guests can find black mamba, reticulated python, and king cobra among the snake habitats. There are also several species of reptiles native to Georgia, such as the timber rattlesnake, Carolina pygmy rattlesnake, eastern diamond-backed rattlesnake, water moccasin, copperhead, gopher tortoise, and bog turtle.

Next read: 20 Unique Atlanta Vacation Packages

KidZone/Outback Station Children's Zoo

The Outback Station Children's Zoo features a variety of Australian wildlife, such as the southern cassowary, red kangaroos, and Major Mitchell's cockatoos. The petting zoo within KIDZone offers children a chance to pet Saanen goats, Nigerian dwarf goats, Oberhasli goats, a kunekune pig, Gulf Coast sheep, and Southdown babydoll sheep. The KIDZone also showcases the giant tortoise in winter, tamarins, blue cranes, Bald Eagles, owls, exotic birds, and wetlands animals.

Warm Weather Fun

There are few activities at Zoo Atlanta that are available during the warmer months. The Splash Fountain provides interactive water fun and a nice break from the heat. Guests can get up-close to the zoo's giraffes at Twiga Terrace and have a chance to feed them part of their regular diet.

Other Activities

Zoo Atlanta offers many other activities for guests in addition to the numerous animal exhibits. Training Demonstrations and Keeper Talks offer guests a chance to learn more about some of the zoo's animals. Guests can check their zoo map on the day they're visiting to find out where they can watch an animal training demonstration or where they can meet a zookeeper for a Keeper Talk. Wildlife Shows let visitors meet animal ambassadors and free-flying birds from throughout the world.

There are also many activities designed for younger zoo guests, such as the petting zoo, playgrounds, and Zoo's Clues. The Petting Zoo offers children an opportunity to pet animals like sheep and goats. The KIDZone playground is packed with activities and kids love to explore the tunnel zone inspired by the naked mole rat. Zoo's Clues, designed for 8 to 12 year olds, asks kids to help Detective Clue Spotter the Otter solve a case. Visitors can check the "Plan Your Day" page on the zoo's website to learn more about what's happening the day of their visit.

Attractions & points of interest: Virginia Beach, Chattanooga, Fort Lauderdale

»Add-On Zoo Experiences-Rides

Add-On Zoo Experiences-Rides

There several add-on experiences that visitors can choose to do when visiting Zoo Atlanta for an additional fee. Guests can participate in Parakeet Feeding to have a chance to feed the parakeet flock in Boundless Budgies: A Parakeet Adventure. Visitors can also choose to take part in a Wildlife Encounter for an opportunity to go behind the scenes to meet and feed an Aldabra tortoise, African elephant, or giant panda. Guests can also enjoy the Zoo Train, Nabisco Endangered Species Carousel, Canopy Climber, and a rock wall.

The Zoo Train takes guests on a journey to experience a day in the life of the inhabitants of Critter Crossing. It is a handcrafted replica of an 1868 original locomotive, and is one of the most popular attractions at the zoo. Visitors can climb up through a canopy on the Canopy Climber and enjoy the slide down afterwards. The Nabisco Endangered Species Carousel, located in the Children's Zoo under a brightly colored pavilion, spins visitors on a whimsical ride upon any one of the 38 hand-carved wooden animals of a handful of the most endangered species in the world. The carousel features several hand-painted murals that depict mothers and babies of different endangered species in their natural habitats. Guests can also brave the Rock Wall and try to climb to new heights.

Education Programs

Zoo Atlanta offers a wide array of educational programs and experiences for all ages. One such education experience is NightCrawler Overnights. This program offers guests a chance to the spend the night in the zoo, going on a nocturnal adventure that is filled with games, animal, and behind-the-scenes fun. Group NightCrawlers is designed for school groups, birthday parties, scouts, youth and adults organizations and families. Groups can choose the date of their overnight visit and the theme. Family and Deluxe NightCrawlers events are on preset dates every month and offer families themed overnight experiences.

Another educational program offered is Keeper for a Day, during which participants, teenagers or adults, assist animal care professionals with their daily responsibilities and get a firsthand look at what it's like to work in a zoo. Daily responsibilities include animal care, food preparation, and cleaning. The program is great for anyone considering a zookeeping career, or for anyone who has just always wanted to spend time with one of the zoo's animals. Keeper for a Day is an exclusive, behind-the-scenes experience that no participant would forget. There are five program options particpants can choose from: Giant Panda, Show Birds and Animal Ambassadors, Elephants and Carnivores, Birds and Reptiles, and Hoofstock and Carnivores.

Safari Day Camps are also provided at Zoo Atlanta throughout the year, and are designed to give students to learn about the zoo's wildlife during school breaks. Students will learn about nature and animals in an amazing outdoor environment. A typical day at a Safari Day Camp includes exclusive tours, up-close animal encounters, animal shows and feedings, educational videos, arts and crafts, zoo keeper talks, educational videos, and interactive learning using biofacts and pictures.

There are a few educational programs even designed for some of the youngest Zoo Atlanta guests. Stroller Cubs, a program from children aged two and under and the adults that care for them, provides an early learning adventure. During the program, guests will visit animal exhibits and meet animal ambassadors during a special introduction to wildlife. For children ages three and four, Adventure Cubs offers a hands-on, fun experience. Visitors taking part in the program will play and explore at interactive learning stations, meet an animal ambassador, and go on a zoo tour. The experience allows toddlers to explore different concepts about animals tailored toward their age.

Back to: Best Things to Do in Atlanta

800 Cherokee Avenue, SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, website, Phone: 404-624-WILD

Fun places to visit & what to do last minute: Great Attractions & Free Activities



Zoo Atlanta