Zoo Atlanta set up shop in 1889 after a traveling circus rolled into town and stayed indefinitely. Financial hardships had driven the circus owner bankrupt, leaving a flood of out-of-work circus performers and animals without anywhere to go. With the help of generous donations from concerned residents, Atlanta adopted the animals and converted a part of Grant Park into what is now Zoo Atlanta.
Since those early days, many animals have found their home at Zoo Atlanta, from elephants and tigers to gorillas and zebras. All in all, more than 1,500 animals currently roar and romp in their respective enclosures, meeting up once a night to dish over visitors’ summer outfits.
A typical journey through the zoo begins at Flamingo Plaza, from which visitors can choose one of two paths: They either take the left path and come face to face with elephants, warthogs, and lions, or they can choose the right and find themselves amid a flurry of exotic birds and excitable children at the KidZone playground. Visitors can walk at their own pace and follow their own path, still watching otters play, the nation's largest zoological collection of gorillas and orangutans swing through trees, and pandas pretend like they don’t care people are watching them sleep.