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Best Zoos in Alabama: A Comprehensive Guide

Alabama is home to a variety of zoos and animal attractions that showcase an amazing array of species and captivating experiences for people of all ages. With a focus on education, conservation, and providing unique interactions with the animals, these Alabama zoos offer a great opportunity for a memorable day of learning and fun.

Three spider monkeys

From the Birmingham Zoo, which has been operating since 1955 and houses over 550 animals across 195 species, to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, where visitors can get up close with over 500 exotic animals, there are plenty of options for a fantastic day out. Additionally, the Montgomery Zoo and Alabama Safari Park both provide more opportunities for exploration, with a focus on wildlife learning and immersive experiences. Harmony Park Safari, among others, offers a unique drive-through safari experience, bringing a different perspective to Alabama’s animal attractions.

Key Takeaways

  • Alabama boasts various zoos and animal attractions that promote education, conservation, and enjoyable experiences for visitors.
  • Notable locations include the Birmingham Zoo, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, Montgomery Zoo, Alabama Safari Park, and Harmony Park Safari.
  • These animal attractions provide a range of experiences, from up-close encounters with exotic animals to educational programs and immersive safaris.

Best Zoos in Alabama

Alabama is home to several remarkable zoos that provide excellent opportunities for visitors to admire and connect with a variety of animals in natural habitats. These zoos promote conservation, education, and an enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.

Birmingham Zoo is a top destination in Alabama for wildlife lovers. Established in 1955, the zoo currently houses around 550 animals, including several endangered species. Visitors can explore and learn about the world’s wildlife through informative exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is another popular attraction, offering a unique experience for animal enthusiasts. With over 1,650 exotic animals and ticket admission prices starting from $37.00, this zoo allows visitors to enjoy an entire afternoon exploring its exhibits. Recently, the zoo announced the birth of a rare and endangered ring-tailed lemur named Carrot, further demonstrating its commitment to conservation.

For a more interactive and hands-on experience, Harmony Park Safari in Huntsville is the perfect choice. This drive-thru zoo allows visitors to encounter various animals up close, making the trip both educational and thrilling for families, especially those with children.

Other notable zoos in Alabama include:

  • Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island: An avian-focused attraction where visitors can learn about birds in their natural habitat.
  • Alligator Alley: An exciting and educational destination dedicated to showcasing various stages of an alligator’s life cycle.
  • Alabama Safari Park: Featuring a drive-thru safari, various feedings, and a petting zoo for guests to enjoy.

These zoos in Alabama showcase a diverse range of animals and habitats, providing both education and entertainment while promoting the importance of wildlife conservation. With engaging exhibits and interactive experiences, these destinations are perfect for families, nature lovers, and those passionate about preserving our planet’s incredible biodiversity.

Birmingham Zoo

Animal Exhibits

The Birmingham Zoo is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, showcasing a variety of animals, including lions, zebras, giraffes, sea lions, orangutans, and African elephants. With over 1,000 animals from six continents, the zoo provides an opportunity to learn and experience wildlife up close. Some of its attractions include interactive exhibits, enriching encounters with the animals, and the ever-popular train ride that takes visitors through various animal habitats.


As part of its mission to inspire passion for conserving the natural world, the Birmingham Zoo actively engages in wildlife conservation efforts. These initiatives include the protection and reintroduction of endangered species and strengthening the habitats of animals in the zoo as well as in their native environments. The zoo’s commitment to conservation has positively impacted the lives of local and global animal populations.


The Birmingham Zoo places great emphasis on education programs aimed at fostering a love for wildlife and the environment. They offer various activities, such as summer camps, field trips, and teacher workshops, which are designed to inspire young minds and educate people of all ages. Additionally, the nearby McWane Science Center is home to exceptional Science Museums and interactive Aquariums, providing a perfect complement to the zoo experience. Through these educational efforts, the Birmingham Zoo inspires its visitors to become advocates for wildlife and conservation.

Montgomery Zoo

Located in Montgomery, Alabama, the Montgomery Zoo is a popular destination for families and wildlife enthusiasts. Spread over 40 acres, the zoo is home to over 700 animals from five continents, including the famous Bengal tiger.

Unique Attractions

One of the standout features of the Montgomery Zoo is its collection of animals from across the globe, including those from Africa, Asia, and North America. The zoo offers interactive exhibits, making it possible for visitors to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most fascinating creatures, such as lions, bengal tigers, and western lowland gorillas.

The Montgomery Zoo is also dedicated to conservation efforts and houses a number of endangered species. By visiting the zoo, guests have the opportunity to witness these captivating animals and learn about the efforts being made to preserve their natural habitats.

Educational Experiences

The Montgomery Zoo and the adjacent Mann Wildlife Learning Museum work together to provide an enriching experience for visitors of all ages. Children and adults alike can gain a deeper understanding of the animals they encounter through the educational programs and interactive exhibits the facility offers.

One notable attraction is the train ride, which allows guests to view the animals from a different perspective and offers unique educational opportunities related to the various species it encounters.

By offering a wide range of experiences, the Montgomery Zoo not only provides a fun day out for families, but also plays an important role in educating the local community about the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Beachside Location

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is located in the beautiful city of Gulf Shores, Alabama, just a short distance from the beach. The new zoo, built from the ground up and accredited by the ZAA, offers a unique experience for visitors who want to explore the world of animals while also enjoying the nearby beach.

Aquatic Life

One of the main highlights of the zoo is its focus on marine life. The McWane Science Center, recognized as one of the top zoos and aquariums in Alabama, offers a variety of interactive exhibits and educational experiences. Here, visitors can enjoy a touch pool with stingrays and skates, observe the marine life closely, and learn from knowledgeable staff members.


Apart from marine life, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is home to around 550 animals, representing 195 species, including several endangered ones. Some of the notable exhibits at the zoo include:

  • Conservation efforts: The zoo is dedicated to conservation efforts and has successfully established breeding programs for endangered species, like the recent birth of a ring-tailed lemur named Carrot.
  • Interactive exhibits: Emphasizing hands-on education, the zoo engages visitors through interactive exhibits, helping them gain first-hand knowledge about various animals and their habitats.
  • Dauphin Island: Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo works in partnership with nearby facilities such as the Dauphin Island Estuarium, providing additional learning opportunities about the marine life and eco-systems of the Gulf Coast region.

Alabama Safari Park

Drive-thru Safari

At the Alabama Safari Park, visitors have the unique opportunity to experience a drive-thru safari that spans over a 350-acre area. Here, you can witness a variety of wild animals in their natural habitat, including lemurs, zebras, giraffes, and kangaroos. In this exciting adventure, you can drive through the park multiple times to ensure you catch a glimpse of as many animals as possible. Just make sure to respect the park’s operating hours, which are:

  • January 1 – February 28: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (last car admitted at 3:00 pm)
  • March 1 – October 31: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (last car admitted at 4:00 pm)

Animal Encounters

For a more interactive experience, the Alabama Safari Park offers a range of animal encounters that both children and adults can enjoy:

  • Lemurs: Get up close and personal with these adorable creatures in the park’s lemur exhibit.
  • Sea Lions: Witness the playful antics of sea lions, making for an unforgettable experience.
  • Giraffe Feeding: At the Giraffe Tower, visitors can directly feed the magnificent giraffes, creating a truly memorable moment.
  • Train: To ensure all age groups enjoy a fun time at the park, a train ride is available for those who prefer a more laid-back way to view the animals.

The Alabama Safari Park is the perfect destination for a day filled with wonder, learning, and interaction with some of the world’s most amazing animals. The park’s dedication to providing a confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear atmosphere ensures an unforgettable experience for all visitors.

Harmony Park Safari

Harmony Park Safari, located in Huntsville, Alabama, is a unique destination that offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of wild and exotic animals. This drive-through safari park provides an interactive and educational experience that both children and adults can enjoy.

Hands-on Petting Zoo

At Harmony Park Safari, guests can experience a hands-on petting zoo featuring a variety of friendly animals eager for interaction. Children will love the opportunity to feed and pet animals such as kangaroos, ensuring an unforgettable experience. It’s important to remember that the park accepts cash and check only for admission and animal food, so be sure to come prepared with a small bucket of food for $5 to make the most of your visit.

Exotic Animal Species

Aside from the interactive petting zoo, Harmony Park Safari is also home to an array of exotic animal species. As you drive through the park, keep an eye out for some of the beautiful and rare creatures that reside within the safari. From endangered species to more common animals, visitors are sure to be captivated by the stunning diversity of wildlife on display at this Alabama attraction. Open from March to November, daily from 10 am to sunset, Harmony Park Safari allows guests to immerse themselves in a world of fascinating animals while maintaining a neutral and clear educational experience. The cost of admission is $9 per person.

Other Animal Attractions

Alligator Alley

Alligator Alley in Summerdale is a popular attraction for those wanting to get up close with alligators and other wild animals. This facility is dedicated to the conservation of these incredible creatures, providing a safe and educational environment for visitors to learn about their natural habitat. Guests can observe alligators from raised boardwalks and even participate in feeding sessions.

Brantley Farms

Brantley Farms Petting Zoo, located in Daphne, offers a more hands-on experience for animal lovers. This family-friendly attraction features a wide variety of animals, including birds, goats, and pigs. The facility emphasizes interaction with their animals, allowing guests to feed and pet them, making for an unforgettable visit.

Mann Wildlife Learning Museum

The Mann Wildlife Learning Museum in Prattville showcases a unique collection of preserved wildlife specimens from around the globe. Visitors can explore and learn about various species and their natural habitats through informative exhibits and displays. The museum aims to promote wildlife conservation and educate the public on the importance of preserving our planet’s biodiversity.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Dauphin Island Sea Lab, located on Dauphin Island, is a marine research and educational facility focusing on marine life and coastal ecosystems. The facility offers a variety of exhibits, tours, and programs aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the diverse marine life found in the Gulf of Mexico. From aquariums filled with local species to hands-on touch tanks and interactive displays, guests of all ages can learn about the importance of conservation and marine biology.

Zoo and Animal Conservation Organizations

Alabama is home to a number of noteworthy zoos and animal conservation organizations, working tirelessly to protect and preserve wildlife. These entities serve as educational resources while providing an enjoyable and meaningful experience for visitors, in hopes of inspiring a passion for wildlife conservation.

The Birmingham Zoo is a significant zoological park that opened in 1955. It is an independent, non-profit organization, currently home to about 550 animals belonging to 195 species, including several endangered ones. By visiting the Birmingham Zoo, guests can learn about various animals and the importance of their conservation efforts.

Another popular destination is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. This zoo offers visitors a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of animals. With admission tickets starting at $37.00, guests can explore diverse exhibits and even participate in special experiences such as animal encounters.

For those who enjoy safaris, the Alabama Safari Park is a must-visit. The park features a Safari Drive-Thru Village and a Walk-About, where visitors can feed giraffes and view numerous other animals such as Watusi, llamas, and zebras. Alabama Safari Park also organizes events like Safari Splash, which is scheduled for July 22, 2023.

Apart from these zoos, Alabama also has a variety of sanctuaries and conservation organizations dedicated to protecting and conserving wildlife. The Audubon Bird Sanctuary located in Dauphin Island focuses on providing a safe haven for birds, while Alligator Alley offers a natural habitat for rescued alligators. These sanctuaries allow these wild animals to live and thrive in a protected environment.

Plan Your Visit

Visiting zoos in Alabama can be a fun and educational experience for both children and parents. To make the most out of your visit, it’s important to plan ahead and keep a few things in mind.

First, decide on which zoo you would like to visit. Some popular options include Birmingham Zoo, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, and Alabama Safari Park. Each zoo offers unique animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and guided tours for an enjoyable day out.

When planning your visit, make sure to check the opening hours and admission fees for each zoo. Most zoos in Alabama operate daily, but it’s always a good idea to confirm before heading out. Keep in mind that some attractions, such as guided tours and special encounters, might require additional fees or advance reservations.

Once you’ve chosen a zoo and checked the relevant details, think about the facilities and amenities available on-site. Many zoos in Alabama offer picnic areas, making it an excellent opportunity to pack a lunch and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Alternatively, several zoos also have on-site restaurants and cafes, where you can grab a bite to eat during your visit.

For a well-rounded experience, consider including activities that cater to both children and parents. Most zoos in Alabama have playgrounds or play areas where your little ones can burn off some energy. In addition, look for educational exhibits and programs which can offer valuable learning opportunities for everyone in the family. Animal shows, feeding experiences, and zookeeper talks are just some of the engaging activities you might find.

To commemorate your visit, explore the zoo’s gift shop for unique souvenirs or mementos. From plush toys to educational books, there’s sure to be something for everyone to remember their day at the zoo.

Finally, don’t forget to bring along essentials like comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and water bottles to ensure a pleasant and hassle-free visit. With a little planning and preparation, your day at the zoos in Alabama will be a memorable and enjoyable experience for the whole family.