A Quick Tour of Atlanta Zoo

When is the best time to visit a zoo? When there is a serious cold front and one hour before closing time. You literally have the full zoo to yourself.

Why a Quick Tour of Atlanta Zoo

We had no plans to visit the Atlanta Zoo during our trip. Especially because of the major cold front where the temps dropped down to 16 fahrenheit and my wardrobe consisted of a few sweat shirts, barely enough to keep me warm.

Atlanta Zoo - entrance

However, while taking our Peachtree Trolley Tour, the guide had so many interesting things to say about the zoo, that we decided to go for it.

And the HUGE benefit of having the Atlanta CityPASS, you can go to as many attractions that are part of their package as you want within a 9-day time period. Since we already had the tickets, aside from the bitter cold, we had no excuse. And besides, when am I going to be back to Atlanta – you only live once.

What We Learned About Atlanta Zoo History

Atlanta Zoo exhibits

  • 1889 a circus came to town
  • While in Atlanta it went bankrupt
  • The animals were left in their cages, basically dying. However, crowds started to come around and two weeks later a businessman – George Valentine Gress bought the animals at an auction and donated it to Atlanta
  • The zoo was always a community effort
  • 1935 a rich family had a huge menagerie on their estate that bugged their neighbors and the Briarcliff family said, if Atlanta can get enough funds to house and feed their animals they would donate them to the zoo. This would literally double the zoo.
  • 1961 The biggest event that happened and changed the face of the zoo was Willie B. An infant gorilla that arrived to the zoo. Since cages weren’t the best back then, his cage was literally a closed room with a TV.
  • 1984 became a year when the cage conditions and deterioration of the zoo became publicized and named one of the top 10 worst zoos. The government came up with an extremely successful tactic. The zoo was privatized and an NGO was formed “Atlanta Fulton County Zoo, Inc.” The pouring of money was so amazing that they were able to redo most of the zoo.

Atlanta Zoo animals

  • 1988 Willie B., now 30 years old, had his first day ever in open air. He lived for another 12 years. His funeral had more people attend it than some of the ex mayors of Atlanta over 5,000 people.

Gorillas at Atlanta Zoo

  • 1999 was another monumental year for Atlanta zoo. Lun Lun and Yang Yang a panda couple arrived from China on loan.
  • The Panda couple had several births, but first time ever a twin set – Kail and Kazi. You can see the twins when visiting. And if you can’t, there is a live panda cam so you won’t miss a single moment.
  • Why the twins are such an important event. In their natural habitat if a Panda has twins, one would normally die since the mama only can nurse one. When the twins were born at the zoo, a panda specialist from China spent three months on the floor of their cage changing the babies to nurse so they can be strong and survive on their own.

atlanta zoo panda

  • Fun Fact – every single Panda in every zoo in the world is on loan from China. No one has ownership rights to Pandas.
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About Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

One Response to A Quick Tour of Atlanta Zoo

  1. This was a brilliant read thanks. Loved all the pictures especially the mum and baby gorilla! I would like to take a trip here now after reading this.

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