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Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta — a nationally recognized animal habitat — is a private, nonprofit wildlife park located in historic Grant Park, less than a mile from Turner Field, in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and is an American Zoological Association-accredited wildlife park. The zoo features nearly 1,000 animals representing 250 species from around the world. Zoo Atlanta can be traced to its beginning as the Grant Park Zoo, established in 1889 from the remnants of a traveling circus. The Georgia park occupied an area of about 131 acres (40-acre zoo), which was donated to the city by developer Lemuel P. Grant in 1883. Over the years, the Grant Park Zoo gradually became known as the Municipal Zoo. A main addition was Clio the Elephant — named in honor of Clio Hall, the wife of a popular fire chief and future mayor. Owing to small cages and lack of facilities, the municipal zoo ended up at the top of a list of the 10 worst zoos in the country in 1984, which led to discussions about closing it. The idea was dropped when Georgia Tech professor Terry Maples purchased it to create an animal habitat. Thus began the rise of Zoo Atlanta. The zoo underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in the 1980s and is still expanding. Its landscaping replicates the natural habitats of its residents, some of which are on the Endangered Species list. They include Sumatran orangutans, western lowland gorillas, black rhinos, African elephants, Komodo monitors, and big-mouthed African dwarf crocodiles. Zoo Atlanta is most notable for two giant pandas, Lun Lun and Yang Yang, brought on loan from the Chengdu Zoo in China until 2009. Another notable feature is more than 20 western lowland gorillas, one of the two largest collections of that species in North America. One of the zoo's most popular animals ever was Willie B., a gorilla full of personality that died in 2000 at the age of 42. Other species at the zoo include the tiger and clouded leopard, reptiles and amphibians, a bird collection, red panda, Asian small-clawed otter, drill and mona monkeys, rhinoceros, lion and kangaroo. Zoo Atlanta offers numerous activities for the entire family that ranges from animal encounters, to educational demonstrations by trainers, to interactive rides and exhibits. The zoo also conducts safari camps, preschool programs, and various other activities.