I know that its been awhile since I was on vacation, but I didn't want to bombard you with vacation stuff, and it has kind-of gotten lost with all the other stuff I've been up to. But, I had to tell you about The Little Zoo That Could, or The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
How did it get the nickname? Good question!
Here's Wikipedia's answer.
The flurry of activity around the zoo attracted media attention during Hurricane Ivan, and the zoo was approached about doing a series for Animal Planet. Shooting for the series started in 2005, and the first of 13 episodes of "The Little Zoo that Could" aired in February 2006. The series focused on the zoo's efforts to reopen after being battered by 3 major hurricanes in 2004 and 2005: Hurricane Ivan, Hurricane Dennis, and Hurricane Katrina. A one-hour follow-up on the series aired in February 2007.
Additionally, the zoo has evacuated three times in preparation of hurricanes. Amazing.
In July 1997 Hurricane Danny hit Gulf Shores. Then in 1998, Hurricane Georges hit, causing more flood damage. The zoo evacuated all of its animals in both cases, transporting them 15 miles (24 km) inland to higher ground and becoming the first zoo to have a full scale evacuation during a hurricane. These expensive evacuations, and the repairs following the hurricanes, almost caused the zoo to close in 1999, but fund raising efforts were successful in raising enough money to keep it open. Hurricane Ivan in 2004 caused $500,000 in damage, forcing another evacuation and closing the zoo for 14 months. Several animals were not caught during this evacuation, and were lost. More evacuations resulted from Dennis and Katrina in 2005, but the zoo was able to reopen fairly quickly in October 2005.
I know comparaison is the thief of joy, but for St. Louisians I will go ahead and compare the two zoos. St. Louis zoo is larger and more commercial, with snack bars, a huge gift shop, water features and statues, etc. It is also free and in the midst of many of St. Louis' free attractions. I never realized how much a person in St. Louis can do for free compared to other places. Also, the reptile, bird and monkey houses are HUGE at the St. Louis Zoo.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is a lot smaller. It's privately funded, so there are fewer bells and whistles, not that that's a bad thing. Unlike the St. Louis Zoo, there are cages and aquariums like you would see in a person's house. I guess this makes them easier to move? Also, admission is $10 for adults to get in and $7 for children. This does not include extra stuff, which we'll talk about later.
The one thing that made this zoo amazingly awesome (besides its ability to overcome) was the "animal encounters." For a separate fee, families could play with kangaroos or a kukaburra, ride a camel, hold lemurs or tiger cubs. I just saw that they're adding an African serval encounter!
We went during a week day, so not all of them were open. In fact, we did the only two that were open, including a camel ride and the lemur encounter. Both were fun, but the lemurs stood out. It was so awesome to feel those little monkey paws all over you. They were so friendly! The zookeeper had banana chips, which made the little lemurs go crazy. We were trying to take pictures, but my camera battery died and it was hard to get photos on our phones. Anyway, we did the best we could. The lemurs were trying to snack on my iPhone... eek!
Gary waves hello.
Ugh. Gary chopped off my head.
a little better...
Awesome cell phone quality photo...
Proof! This is the inside of a lemur mouth as he nibbled on my otter box. I have little teeth marks on it!
Vincent watched more than he held the lemurs. He kept getting up and he was supposed to be sitting to hold them. He liked feeding them the banana chips.
Here are some more zoo photos.
HeHe. This guy was waiting for me to drop some treats into his mouth! Such a friendly animal!
Hey! Don't stick your tongue out at me! ;)
Be careful... he bites...
Lovely treat eaters.
The animal encounters made the zoo one of my favorite parts of our trip. I hope you enjoy these pictures. If you get a chance, check out The Little Zoo That Could! It will have a new location next summer, so maybe I can update you guys after G and I get back from our honeymoon! Man, the word "honeymoon" even looks weird. Gotta love it!