Louisville Zoo

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Louisville Zoo
Louisville Zoo Entrance.jpg
Zoo Entrance
Date opened 1969
Location Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Coordinates 38°12′19″N 85°42′19″W / 38.20528°N 85.70528°W / 38.20528; -85.70528Coordinates: 38°12′19″N 85°42′19″W / 38.20528°N 85.70528°W / 38.20528; -85.70528
Land area 134 acres (54 ha)
No. of animals 1,700
Annual visitors 900,000+
Memberships AZA,[1] AAM[2]
Major exhibits Gorilla Forest, Islands
Website www.louisvillezoo.com

Founded in 1969, the Louisville Zoo, or the Louisville Zoological Garden, is a 134-acre (54 ha) zoo in Louisville, Kentucky, situated in the city's Poplar Level neighborhood. The "State Zoo of Kentucky" currently exhibits over 1,700 animals in naturalistic and mixed animal settings representing both geographical areas and biomes or habitats.

The Louisville Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). During the 2006-07 season, the zoo set an all-time yearly attendance record with 810,546 visitors.[3]

The Louisville Zoo's mission is "To better the bond between the people and our planet."


The Louisville Zoo was founded in 1969, on land acquired by the City of Louisville in the 1960s from the estate of Ben Collins. Much of the initial funding was donated by local philanthropist James Graham Brown.

In December 2009, the chief restorer of the Louisville Clock Adam Burckle came to an agreement with Louisville Metro mayor Jerry Abramson to install the clock in a new landscaped plaza at the entrance of the Louisville Zoo in Spring 2010, where it would be viewed by about 800,000 zoo visitors a year.[4]

In December 2010, zoo officials decided the cost, to be as much as $200,000 or more, to create a centerpiece and a stand for the clock is too much, and is therefore unaffordable for now.[5]


Western Lowland Gorilla

The Louisville Zoo has six zones within the zoo: The Islands, Africa, Glacier Run, Australia, South America and HerpAquarium

Gorilla Forest[edit]

The zoo was awarded the 2003 Association of Zoos and Aquariums Exhibit Award for its 4-acre (16,000 m2) exhibit "Gorilla Forest".[6] The exhibit currently houses eleven western lowland gorillas, five patas monkeys, and two pygmy hippopotamus.

Inside the circular Gorilla Sanctuary, visitors are separated only by glass and can get nose to nose with the gorillas. And there are several different outdoor vantage points from which to see the gorillas playing and relaxing.[7]


Albino Alligator at Louisville Zoo, named King Louie

The HerpAquarium features 100 species of reptiles, amphibians and fish from around the world.

A notable resident of the HerpAquarium is a 6-foot-long (1.8 m) rare white American alligator named King Louie. He is named after King Louis XVI, which the city of Louisville is also named after.[8]

The Louisville Zoo currently houses a group of critically endangered Panamanian golden frogs. The Louisville zoo is working to preserve this species of frog from extinction. Their numbers have declined in the wild partly due to the chytrid fungus and habitat destruction.

On March 31, 2006, the zoo added a bachelor group of seven vampire bats obtained from the Philadelphia Zoo. And another 10 males from the Sedgwick County Zoo were added to the group in late May 2006. Eventually the exhibit will house around 40 bats. The exhibit is designed to look like an old mine shaft. Zoo guests can get an up-close view of the bats flying, eating and raising families.[9]


Sumatran tiger

The zoo has a distinctive zoological exhibit called "Islands", which is the first exhibit in the world that uses a system of rotating a variety of animals into one exhibit. This way, the animals can explore different habitats throughout the day, as they would in the wild. This helps to give the animals needed stimulation and heightens their awareness. Moreover, the exhibit is the first to have natural predator and prey in the same space. There are three outdoor exhibit areas and one indoor area. All animals in this exhibit are endangered or threatened species. The animals that are on display here change from day to day so that visitors will have a new and different experience with each visit to the zoo. The animals that can be seen in this exhibit include the Sumatran tiger, orangutan, siamang, babirusa, and the Malayan tapir.[10]

The Islands Pavilion is an indoor area that houses many species of birds, including the white-throated ground-dove. The zoo was the first zoo in the world to hatch this rare dove in captivity. The first hatchling was born on October 17, 2006, and a second followed on December 1, 2006.[11] Some of the other bird species included in the Islands Pavilion are the Mariana fruit dove, Madagascar fody, and the rockhopper penguin. The pavilion also houses the Rodrigues fruit bat, Cuban crocodile, and the Komodo dragon.

Red-necked wallaby

Wallaroo Walkabout[edit]

The new Wallaroo Walkabout that opened in 2007 lets guests walk directly through the exhibit which is home to the wallaroo and red-necked wallaby, as well as some Australian birds including the kookaburra, blue-faced honeyeater, emu and the tawny frogmouth. Visitors are able to interact with the wallaroos and wallabies if they stay on the walkway.

Lorikeet Landing[edit]

Lorikeet Landing is an Australian exhibit that is a walkthrough aviary filled with several brightly colored birds known as lorikeets. Visitors can feed nectar to the birds right out of their hands. The lorikeet species at the Louisville Zoo are the black-winged lory, green-naped lorikeet, perfect lorikeet, red lory, and the Swainson's lorikeet.[12]

Glacier Run[edit]

Finished in early 2011, this 4.3-acre (1.7 ha) outdoor exhibit is based on the theme of an old gold-mining town bordered by a glacier. It features polar bears, grizzly bears, seals, and sea lions, as well as a splash park for children. The splash park opened in 2007, and was the first part of this $25 million exhibit to open.[13][14]

The exhibit also includes classrooms, party rooms available for rental, viewing areas above and below water, and a 200-seat outdoor auditorium for watching animal training demonstrations.


  • Mojo, a patas monkey previously owned by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, was given to the zoo on 24 August 2007 when he became too aggressive to keep as a pet.[15]
  • Scotty, an African elephant born on 18 March 2007, was the first elephant born in Kentucky. Scotty died on 12 May 2010 when he was only three years old due to severe gastric and intestinal problems.[16][17][18]
  • The Louisville Zoo has hand-raised three baby siamangs—Sungai (from the San Francisco Zoo), Zoli (born at the Louisville Zoo), and Zain (from the Albuquerque Biological Park) after Zoli's parents died of E. coli septicemia and the other two were brought in as companions[19]—and is thought to be the only Zoo to ever hand raise three baby siamangs this young.[20]
  • The zoo is also home to several black-footed ferrets, as it participates in the black-footed ferret breeding program. The ferrets are one of the most endangered species in North America.[citation needed]
  • Bakari (Whose name is Swahili for hopeful) the Masai giraffe was born on 17 February 2009 with angular limb deformity, and had periosteal stripping performed on his leg. He is believed to be the first giraffe to undergo this procedure.[21]
  • In June 2013, the Louisville Zoo organized a contest to name the first zebra foal to be born at the zoo in 13 years.[22] The foal was ultimately named Ziva, after the fictional character Ziva David from the television series NCIS.[23][24]
  • On October 23, 2014, the zoo announced that their 11-year-old reticulated python, Thelma, had given birth to six individuals without any interaction with a male. She is the first known individual of her species to have done so in captivity.[25]


During October, the zoo hosts the "World's Largest Halloween Party", one of the largest Halloween parties in the United States.

The zoo also includes a Zoo Key System. At the front of the park, a key, usually in the shape of an animal, may be purchased. Around the park, visitors can insert these keys into Zoo Key boxes for a song and/or information about the animal.

The zoo has a booth called "Handimals" located by the entrance where kids can make an animal out of their hand prints.

Often when an animal is born in the zoo, the zoo holds a contest where participants send in ideas for names.


On June 1, 2009, the zoo train had derailed the tracks. Three open-air cars and the engine went off the tracks and caused the passenger car to topple over, due to excessive speed and operator inexperience.[26] The incident injured 22 people. An Indiana family that was on the train when the accident happened has sued the Louisville Zoo. Amy and Darren Bamforth filed the lawsuit on June 10, 2009. Another family in Louisville who was on the train, also filed a suit. They sought unspecified monetary damages as well as a court order preventing the zoo from altering or destroying the train while the lawsuit proceeds. A spokesman for the zoo declined to comment. The zoo train was closed for four years. On July 2, 2013, the zoo train reopened to the public after buying new trains investing in expanded training procedures. All legal actions regarding the incident were concluded as of October, 2015.[26]

On July 1, 1994, a man was picked up and dropped several times by an African elephant named Kenya. As a result of the man's injuries, his spleen and part of his pancreas were removed. The elephant had just finished giving rides to zoo visitors and was being led away when she wandered off and picked up the man. Zoo officials claimed that the elephant, who was normally considered calm and docile, was just "horsing around."[27]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Museums" (PDF). aam-us.org. AAM. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Zoo sets attendance record". The Courier-Journal. 2007-07-09. Retrieved 2007-07-09. [dead link]
  4. ^ Shafer, Sheldon S. (2009-12-14). "Louisville Clock zoo bound". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved 2009-12-14. [dead link]
  5. ^ Louisville Clock still waiting for a new home
  6. ^ "The Louisville Zoo Wins Coveted AZA Exhibit Award". Retrieved 2006-09-09. 
  7. ^ "Inside Gorilla Forest". Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Rare white alligator". Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Furry little blood suckers now at Zoo". Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Islands Rotational Exhibit". Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Media Release, Worlds first captive hatching". Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Lorikeet Landing". Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  13. ^ Glacier Run Splash Park
  14. ^ Glacier Run. Archived October 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Tony Stewart's former pet monkey, Mojo, now resides at the Louisville Zoo Archived June 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Baby Elephant, First to be born in Louisville". Retrieved September 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. ^ "Baby elephant Scotty passes away". 
  18. ^ "Deceased elephants at Louisville Zoo in United States". elephant.se. Elephant Encyclopedia. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Siamang death investigation complete". 28 February 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  20. ^ "Raising Baby Siamangs". Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  21. ^ "Giraffe Baby Update". 17 March 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
  22. ^ "The Louisville Zoo would like to introduce...Ziva!". June 26, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Young zoo zebra gets name of Ziva". June 26, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Latest zebra at Louisville Zoo now has a name". June 26, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  25. ^ "A virgin birth has been confirmed in a reticulated python-a first for the species". June 14, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Lovan, Dylan (October 1, 2015). "Louisville Settles Zoo Train Accident With Remaining Victims for $6M". Insurance Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  27. ^ http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/pdf/Elephant-Incident-List-US-only.pdf

External links[edit]

Media related to Louisville Zoo at Wikimedia Commons