The giraffe on the right is the oldest at Zoo Atlanta. Also, my favorite animal.

The giraffe on the right is the oldest at Zoo Atlanta. Also, my favorite animal.

Sunday, October 9th, I visited the Atlanta zoo (called Zoo Atlanta) with a few friends. We got there around one o’clock and spent about thirty minutes hunting for any parking spot in the “overflow” lot. Upon getting out and heading towards the entrance to the zoo, we got to walk on a beautiful, slightly worn, weathers, stone walkway that made a path between trees and plants and field areas. After making it to the entrance we paid for our tickets and quickly entered the zoo. Zoo Atlanta is a magical place and is well worth the visit.

This was the first time I have been to the Atlanta zoo, and my friends had not been since they were young. I have been to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in South Carolina a few times now, so I have high standards for zoos in general. So, upon entering the zoo, we could smell the strong aroma of brewing coffee mixed with the smells of

The only bald eagle.

The only bald eagle.

 

the nearby animals. To the left-hand side was a group of people gathered around the closest animals to the entrance, the flamingos. We waited patiently behind all the children so that we could see them, and this was a continued theme throughout the day.

Feeding the baby giraffe.

Feeding the baby giraffe.

In some ways, like its setup, Zoo Atlanta is similar to Riverbanks, which I am enamored with. It is one of my favorite places to go, probably because I love animals, especially giraffes. I was excited that the Atlanta zoo had giraffes and that I got to feed them as well. It is a great experience and something I fell in love with at riverbanks. At Zoo Atlanta there are many opportunities to feed different animals, and you can also pay extra for animal encounters, though they are slightly expensive.

A meercat standing on a log.

A meerkat standing on a log.

The zoo makes you feel as though you are immersed in the different areas that the different animals come from because of the surrounding terrain and plant life. As well as the terrain and plants, the zoo has signs and art, which provide information about the different animals such as what they eat and what they are. Some even provide information about whether they are endangered and if they are the is usually a donation spot nearby as well.

Found in the African Plains section of the zoo.

Found in the African Plains section of the zoo.

Being at the Atlanta zoo made me feel connected like I was a part of something. By this I am referring to being surrounded by such a diverse group of people, making me feel connected to more than just Georgia, but the world. There were people from all over, many who did not speak English, gathered in one place, all for the same reason, to visit animals that most people can’t see in their day to day life.

The zoo creates a feeling of connection to the world not only through the

Two of the many birds in the enclosure in which you can walk in and feed the birds.

Two of the many birds in the enclosure in which you can walk in and feed the birds.

diversity of people but the place itself. This is achieved by the many different animals housed at the zoo, not native to Georgia or the United States, but different parts of the world. These different animals were grouped by where they are from. For example, the animals for Asia were in one are of the park and the animals from Africa were in another area. Each area was decorated to reflect some of the culture found in those specific animal’s home countries. In the Asian section, for example, there was bamboo and other plants as well as art that reflected the Asian culture. This helped create the feeling of connection or unity.

 

The animals themselves were very impressive of course, as were their surroundings. Just imagine taking a few steps and things begin to shift from trees and bushes to bamboo shoots at every turn, the color red peeking through everywhere, Asian art and writing, not to mention the panda bears. It was like this in every different area of the zoo. It was like stepping out of one country and into another. Imagine taking a few steps and being surrounded by animals and plants and art representing one culture and after walking a short way arriving somewhere completely new and different.

Flamingos, the gray fuzzy ones are the babies.

Flamingos, the gray fuzzy ones are the babies.

Going to the zoo is having the ability to travel without going too far from home, without having to pay for a plane ticket or take a long drive. It is being able to visit the world without even leaving the state, let alone the country. Not to mention the availability to feed and view animals seen only on television, as well as the ability to go back home just as easily as arriving there was. This is the magic of the zoo, of Zoo Atlanta.

All photos by author.