Zoo Atlanta located in Atlanta, Georgia and founded in 1889 is one of the oldest operating zoological institutions in the United States. Zoo Atlanta houses over 1,300 animals representing more than 220 species. Home to the nation’s largest collections of gorillas and orangutans, the Zoo is also one of only four zoos in the U.S. housing giant pandas.
Zoo Atlanta history goes back in 1889, when George Gress purchased a circus and donated the animals to the city of Atlanta. City leaders housed the collection in Grant Park .Original residents of the Zoo included a black bear, a jaguar, a hyena, an elk, a Mexican hog, a raccoon, lions, monkeys, camels, pumas and snakes. The Zoo’s collection expanded in the 1930s with the personal donation of a private menagerie owned by Asa Candler.
Over the years the Grant Park Zoo became known as Municipal Zoo. Although Grant Park was open to all Americans, both the zoo and the Cyclorama were white-only. It would take almost 80 years to change this.
The 1950s and 1960s were decades of renovation and construction at the Zoo.The Zoo was privatized in 1985 and and was renamed Zoo Atlanta that same year. A 20-year period of aggressive restoration and revitalization followed, marked by several significant exhibit openings in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Zoo Atlanta Attractions
- Boundless Budgies : A Paraket Adventure was opened in April 2009 being the largest of its kind in the southeastern U.S and home to more than 500 free-flying parakeets
- African Plains showcase wildlife native to the grasslands and desert, including including elephants, rhinos, and zebra also roam freely in the exotically named Masai Mara. Lions have a designated area here, away from the other animals. Safari-garbed guides are available throughout the zoo.
- Ford African Rain Forest completed in 2004 open-air setting provides close views of black-and-white-ruffed lemurs, ringtailed lemurs and drills, with adjacent habitats for Angolan colobus monkeys . Zoo Atlanta holds the largest collection of western lowland gorillas in North America, with 22 individuals living in social groups as of December 2009.
- Asian Forest is home from 1999 to two giant pandas, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, on loan from the Chengdu Zoo , China.
- The World of Reptiles is the zoo’s oldest public building, designed in the late 1950s and opened to the public in 1962. It features 450 reptiles and amphibians representing more than 115 species. World of Reptiles highlights include Guatemalan beaded lizards, black mamba, king cobra, reticulated python and greater siren, among hundreds of snakes, turtles, tortoises, lizards, frogs, toads and salamanders from around the world.
- The Children’s Zoo offers encounters with Kunekune pigs, Gulf Coast sheep and Boer, Nubian and Nigerian dwarf goats and also features an authentic Georgia wetlands inhabited year-round by an American alligator and yellow-bellied sliders.. A new playground opened in KIDZone in 2007.
- Maked mole rats opened in 2008 invites guests to “crawl into the secret lives of nature’s weirdest underground family.”
- The SouthTrust Wildlife Theater is a great place to keep the kids entertained.
Zoo Atlanta is open 363 days a year, closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.Visitor Information staff and volunteers are available daily to answer guest questions, assist in planning Zoo visits and provide tourist information and details about Atlanta hotels, restaurants and attractions. Keeper Talks, Animal Q&A and training demonstrations take place regularly on grounds.
Zoo Atlanta’s Wildlife Theater also hosts a popular free-flighted bird show, Saturdays and Sundays in fall and winter and daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Zoo Atlanta is one of the best attractions in Atlanta , we definitively recommend a visit