At first glance, Purdy's Petting Zoo looks like a traditional barnyard: ducks quack and waddle, lop-eared rabbits silently hop, and pygmy goats nibble stalks of grass. But in addition to these familiar creatures, the zoo is home to exotic animals such as kangaroos, peacocks, zebras, and African tortoises. After feeding and petting the animals, visitors can mine for gems or fish for blue channel catfish in an onsite pond. The zoo also hosts field trips and birthday parties with pony rides.
The North Georgia Zoo's 30 acres have been home to some unlikely friendships. A prime example: three wolves, who grew up alongside a basset hound, now happily greet zoo visitors and even allow a few pats and scratches. These sort of animal encounters introduce zoo-goers to many exotic creatures, including camels, kangaroos, and
snakes. The grounds even house the working Paradise Valley Farm, an area ripe for petting with potbelly pigs, miniature goats, and other livestock. And while not all of the zoo's 80 species are huggable, several programs let visitors peer into the habitats of everything from a white handed gibbon to a mountain lion or zebra.
Alligators, fennec foxes, lemurs, and other animals make appearances and refuse to sign autographs during guided tours, which travel by foot and wagon. For a more in-depth education, zookeepers offer a shadowing program, during which participants help feed, clean, and train various animals.
Launching into the Ocoee River, Sunburst Adventures' rafts of whitewater adventurers bump and glide over currents with gradients up to 50 feet per mile. An experienced guide mans the helm, offering instruction and zany anecdotes, as rafters navigate past bushes and trees and around three risky undercuts for a challenging, yet safe, excursion. Sunburst's carefully selected team of enthusiastic rafters has been taming the rapids of the Ocoee and sharing their love for the sport and the great outdoors since 1976. Groups of experienced and novice boaters quickly become familiar with a good soaking as they tackle roaring rapids such as Hell's Hole and Godzilla attempting to bend their boats in two as they jostle their way down the river's 10-mile stretch. For a more leisurely way to enjoy the natural splendor and warm waters of the river, aquatic types can tube the Lower Ocoee, which is known for expressing much calmer waters ever since it kicked its pot-of-coffee-a-day habit.
Tell us about your business.
Friendly Farm is a goat dairy that offers family-friendly activities that help families learn about nature and where their food comes from. We love the outdoors, farming, animals and want to share that love with others.
Do you have a specific philosophy—either toward outdoor activities or nature itself—that you are hoping to share with your customers?
We believe that we should enjoy nature, learn about nature, and by doing so we will learn to take care of our world.
What's one interesting fact most people don't know about your business?
You can train chinchillas to sit on your shoulder.
What special safety precautions does your staff take?
Our staff takes great care to help people learn about nature safely. All our animals are handled daily and we know them by name and are aware of their personalities. Our staff is trained to watch for signs of frustration in our animals and remove the animal to the comfort of its stall if needed.
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, a nature preserve and landscape park, began as a vision in the 1920?s by John and Margaret Chambliss. In the late 1970s, a group of forward thinkers hatched an ambitious plan to bring Chattanooga citizens closer to nature. With the help of the Junior League of Chattanooga, the group raised more than $500,000. In September 1979, The Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center was born. Since then, the center has had more than half a million visitors to explore its 317 acres containing a certified level IV arboretum, Civil War and Cherokee history, botanical gardens, and native plants, as well as raising awareness with educational programs for adults at schoolchildren. Their efforts have helped to conserve the approximately 45 native animal species inhabiting the Wildlife Wanderland, These animal species include a bald eagle, sandhill cranes, and endangered red wolves.
State-of-the-art when it was built, the environmentally engineered main building has remained largely unchanged over the past 33 years. Features such as solar-heating systems, southern-facing windows, and 99% natural R-38 insulation continue to model sustainable-building practices to park visitors and squirrels looking to passively heat their nests.
The Chattanooga Zoo opened its doors in 1937 with an exhibit containing two rhesus monkeys. Pretty soon, it had expanded to include bobcats, lions, and gators, until eventually becoming the venerable non-profit institution it is today, supporting conservation efforts for rare and endangered species around the world.
In the zoo's forest
area, chimps, bobcats, and tortoises roam their habitats to the sound of churning water beneath two waterfalls. Red pandas scurry around a Himalayan habitat, and spider monkeys spin gossamer webs in the jungle area. Kids can play with goats and pot bellied pigs at the petting zoo, or take a few revolutions on the carousel. With a refurbished frame from 1927, it spins guests on the backs of hand-carved seats fashioned after endangered animals such as snow leopards and low lying gorillas.
Behind the scenes, the zoo's caretakers work to rehabilitate hundreds of animals each year so that they can return to the wild. They also lead conservation efforts for rare species?including snow leopards, fennec foxes, and cotton-top tamarins?and educate thousands of students annually with interactive events catered to school curricula.