Zoo Atlanta is an accredited zoological park in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s accredited by the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and was founded in 1889 when businessman George V. Gress purchased a failing traveling circus. He dedicated the animals to the city of Atlanta. It’s original inhabitants included a black bear, a raccoon, a jaguar, a hyena, a gazelle, a Mexican hog, lionesses, monkeys, and camels. Located in Grant Park, the zoo expanded in the 1930s with a large personal donation.
It took about 20 years to get the zoo’s renovation and construction done. By the time the 1970s came along, many of the zoo’s exhibits and facilities were outdated and needed redone. In 1970, a small group of Atlanta’s citizens founded the Atlanta Zoological Society to raise funds and awareness for the institution.
In the mid 1980s, the zoo experienced a period of decline and was privatized with the creation of Atlanta Fulton-County Zoo Inc, a nonprofit organization. It was renamed Zoo Atlanta that same year. The next 20 years were a period of massive growth. With restoration and opening several high-profile exhibits like The Ford African Rain Forest and adding a pair of giant pandas in 1999 the Zoo grew into what it is now.
The Ford African Rainforest
Since the opening of The Ford African Rain Forest in 1988, 21 gorillas have been born at the zoo. Kali and Kazi, a rare set of twins, were born at the zoo on October 31, 2005.
The Living Treehouse is an extension of The Ford African Rain Forest and was completed in 2004. In it is a collection of African birds, as well as black and white ruffed lemurs and ring-tailed lemurs. There are also habitats for Angolan colobus monkeys, drills, Schmidt’s guenons, and Wolf’s guenons.
In 2009, Boundless Budgies houses free-flying parakeets. Guests are allowed to hand feed the parakeets.
Zoo Atlanta is proud to be one of four institutions in the US that house giant pandas. Lun Lun and Yang Yang arrived in Atlanta when they were very young in 1999 and reside at the zoo on loan from China. Since then, many pandas were born from these two including Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po (who was named after the panda in Kung Fu Panda, a set of twins (the first since 1987) named Mei Lun and Mei Huan. All pandas born eventually return to China when they’re between 3-5 years of age when they’re fully grown and weaned.
Other habitats include:
Trader’s alley and Complex Carnivores
The World of Reptiles
And the Outback Station Children’s Zoo
Whether you’re looking for Wild Encounters or just want to leisurely stroll through the African Savanna, there is something at Zoo Atlanta for everyone – including a range of great and fun activities for kids.
Zoo Atlanta is open all year long, closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hours are from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Both food stands close and animals begin to go in an hour prior to the grounds closing.