- Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Zoo Atlanta draws a crowd on any given day − not just when two adorable twin pandas are born.
Being only one of four American zoos that house giant pandas, Atlanta families, tourists and all with a passion for exotic animals flock to the Atlanta's only zoo, which sits in the heart of Atlanta's Grant Park neighborhood at 800 Cherokee Ave. SE.
More on Zoo Atlanta:
The origins of Zoo Atlanta began in 1889, when a traveling animal show bound for Marietta had financial problems and the animals were left behind. They were sold at auction, with a businessman making the purchase and donating them to the city of Atlanta. The animals were housed in Grant Park, marking the start of Atlanta's first public zoo.
For a Zoo Atlanta map, Zoo Atlanta hours and tickets and directions, click here.
If you’re planning to take your family for a visit to Zoo Atlanta, make sure to check out these 5 must-see attractions
You'll find plenty to see and do at Zoo Atlanta, but be sure to check out the following five must-see attractions:
Zoo Atlanta is home to the only twin giant pandas in the U.S., Ya Lun and Xi Lun, and it's one of only four zoos in the U.S. that houses giant pandas. The roly-poly twin cuties were born on Sept. 3, 2016 and have become extremely popular. You can also see them online through their 24-hour-a-day Panda Cam.
The twins' parents, mom Lun Lun and dad Yang Yang, are also at Zoo Atlanta.
Zoo Atlanta has the largest population of western lowland gorillas in the U.S., and its program has been recognized both nationally and internationally.
Gorillas who make their home at Zoo Atlanta include Kudzoo, the first offspring of the late Willie B., and Mijadala, Kudzoo's daughter and Willie B.'s granddaughter, who was born on Sept. 18, 2016.
Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience
You'll find amphibians and reptiles in state-of-the-art habitats, including four American alligators housed in a lagoon that's fed by a 30-foot waterfall. Some of the habitats can be viewed closely from both above and below the water's surface.
You'll find some exotic creatures as well as ones that are native to Georgia, including sea turtles that will grow up at the zoo and eventually be released into the wild at Jekyll Island.
Adults and kids will enjoy navigating a series of rope ladders, bridges, nets and tightropes on the Treetop Trail. Set to open on March 21, the experience is designed to give zoo visitors an experience similar to that of a tree-dwelling animal. Unlike the animals, however, you'll be safely tethered and attached to an overhead tracking system.
A separate fee will be charged for this attraction, and kids will need to be at least 48 inches tall to climb without an adult chaperone.
Wild Encounter allows you to get up close and personal and feed one of the species at the zoo. You can feed a giant tortoise, lemur, warthog, elephant or giant panda. One of the experiences also lets you feed Lun Lun the giant panda and meet one of her cubs.
Each encounter has its own specifications to protect the animals as well as guests. Prices vary according to the encounter you choose.
Tickets and hours
General admission to Zoo Atlanta is $22.99 for ages 12 and up when purchased online ($25.99 at the gate), $16.99 for children age 3-11 ($17.99 at the gate), $18.99 for seniors 65 and over ($21.99 at the gate), and free for children 2 and under. Admission for college students is $21.99 (only at the gate) and free for active-duty, reserves, veterans and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have a valid military ID.
Zoo memberships start at $99 per year and include free admission and other discounts.
The zoo is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m, with the last admissions sold at 4:30 p.m.
How to get there
Zoo Atlanta map
By car: From I-20, take Exit 59A (Boulevard) and go half a mile south. Parking lots are available on Boulevard. From I 75/85, take Exit 245 (Fulton Street) and drive east. Turn right onto Capitol Avenue, and at the first light, turn left on Georgia Avenue. This road ends at the Cherokee Avenue lot.
By MARTA: Zoo Atlanta can be accessed by MARTA via Five Points Route #32.
Parking at either lot is free.
For more information, visit zooatlanta.org or call 404-624-WILD (9453).
RECOMMENDED VIDEO: Panda mom Lun-Lun gave birth to one of her twin cubs September 3, 2016