A few weeks ago Madison and I were fortunate enough to be hosted by Zoo Atlanta, one of only four zoos in the U.S. with giant pandas, as well as home to North America’s largest collection of great apes. Now I have been to quite a few zoos in my lifetime, including a few in the Caribbean and Europe and I have to put Zoo Atlanta in my top 3 zoos to visit. Zoo Atlanta is located at 800 Cherokee Ave SE, in Atlanta, Georgia on an amazing 40 acre spread. Opening daily at 9:30am, we decided to get there early since Atlanta was fairly hot in temperature that day, and I knew we were already planning on doing quite a bit of walking. We wanted to see every animal there was to see and also enjoy some lunch while there.
Here is a quick tip if you’re visiting Zoo Atlanta, grab a map of the zoo before you start trekking around the zoo, and I would say go to your left instead of your right. The right is your Play Zone for the kids and you may want to do that last. The way the zoo is laid out, you would go around in a circle and end up right where you started.
Your first stop as soon as you enter is the amazing Flamingo Plaza, where we met the Chilean Flamingos. I have always had an obsession with Flamingos. Their grace and beauty is yet to be matched in the bird kingdom and I could watch them for hours. However unfortunately for us, we didn’t have very many hours to enjoy what the zoo had to offer so we watched them for a few minutes and got on our way. As soon as we left, we were met by a zoo worker who just happened to be showing off a Gopher Tortoise which can live up to 100 years. Not only did we get to see this Gopher Tortoise up close and personal, but Madison also got to touch it. You may want to take along a bottle of hand sanitizer since there might be quite a few more opportunities for you to get up close and touch an animal.
The zoo consists of animals that you may not want to see without the barriers that the zoo has installed to protect you. We decided to brave the wilds of Africa where we met the African Elephants, Black Rhinoceros and even got up close to Abu the 10 year old Giraffe. The Lions that day decided that they didn’t want to be bothered and remained fast asleep throughout our entire visit. There are Warthogs, Meerkats (think Timon and Pumbaa) and so much more to see throughout your African journey.
Now the highlight of my trip was the Scaly Slimy Spectacular, Amphibian and Reptile Experience. Madison is afraid of anything that slithers and slides and so am I, but I still have a fascination with them. I love watching them on Nat Geo and may have seen Anaconda the movie about a million times. Just keep them in a cage however and we’ll be the best of friends. Madison didn’t want to stay too long here so I was only able to snap a few quick pictures, although I mentioned to her that she was going to be safe. I was extremely surprised at all the amphibians and reptiles that call Georgia home.
Since Zoo Atlanta is famous for their great apes, you’re going to want to stop and pay them a visit. We were able to see a family of Western Lowland Gorillas including a mommy and baby. However, I was truly enthralled by the leader of their band. The great ape himself, who stood apart from all the others, overlooking his kingdom. If Mr. King Kong is too much for you, there are also the playful Orangutans who swing among the tree tops, or even relax in their hammock. We also visited the Living Tree House and got to see some birds in their as close to natural habitat. Then we were off to Asia, to see a few more animals, including the Sumatran Tiger and the famous Giant Pandas.
By this time we must have walked around the zoo for approximately 3 hours and then it was time for lunch. We were able to grab a quick meal at the zoo restaurant which also features kid meals for those who are traveling with their kids. I suggest getting the souvenir cup which is refillable because when it gets HOT, you’re going to need all the liquid you can consume. Not to worry, the fun is about to begin. And the younger kids would enjoy what is to come, because we were about to head to the Outback Station Children’s Zoo which features animals that you can touch. Animals that you see on the farm such as the pigs and goats. There are also a few Kangaroos just laying around and a pond just filled with turtles. Such awesomeness!
And if your kids aren’t interested in petting the animals, well they will surely love the kids area which includes carousel rides, the zoo train, and a spectacular Splash Fountain water play zone, you may however want to bring a bathing suit or change of clothes since the kids do get wet there! There is also a playground where the kids can run around. If they weren’t tired from all the walking, looking at the animals, then they sure might get tired here.
Before you leave be sure to stop in at the Gift Shop. I’m a sucker for gift shops and I never leave without buying a souvenir or two to commemorate my visit. As most of you know, I just LOVE snow globes and I collect them whenever I visit some place new. It’s my way of saying “I was here”, so I wanted to add to my ever growing collection. I just happened to pick up a snow globe that played the song “Born Free”, and it reminded me of the movie that my dad and I sat and watched numerous times when I was younger. I may be showing my age, but it brought back sweet memories and I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT! Madison got her Panda’s and we ended our day with a few memories of us visiting Zoo Atlanta.
I love zoos and you can make them an educational experience when you visit with your kids. I love playing games with Madison whenever we go to the zoo. One of the game we play is “find the animal”, we try and locate a certain animal before each other, and then we read the information relating to that animal. For example, who knew that the Sumatran Tiger is the smallest of Tiger family? I sure didn’t. So if you’re ever in the Atlanta, Georgia area, I highly suggest putting the Zoo Atlanta on your calendar of events to do and tag your photos on social media with their official hashtag #OnlyZooATL.
Here are the ways you can connect with Zoo Atlanta:
Let’s discuss: What animal would you be most interested in seeing at Zoo Atlanta if you visit?