|Date opened||1920, reopened 1972|
|Land area||40 acres (16 ha)|
|Number of animals||750|
|Number of species||140|
Montgomery Zoo is a 40-acre (16 ha) zoo located on the north side of Montgomery, Alabama. The zoo is an independent city department, and is aided by The Montgomery Area Zoolocal Society. It is home to approximately 750 animals representing 140 species. It is an accredited member of the Zoological Association of America and participates in twenty-one Species Survival Plans. In 2007, the zoo was home to the first African elephant birth in Alabama. In 2013, the first Indian rhinoceros ever conceived by artificial insemination was born at the zoo. The Mann Wildlife Learning Museum opened in January 2003. The museum features taxidermy displays with a focus on native wildlife, game species, and resource management.
The Montgomery Zoo began as a small menagerie in 1920 in Oak Park in downtown Montgomery. Initially started as a small children’s zoo as a part of a local community park, the zoo housed alligators, monkeys, bears and assorted other animals. There was a small train and carousel for the children. The zoo closed down between 1960 and 1971 due to racial tensions, and an unwillingness to integrate. In 1972, the Montgomery Zoo reopened at its current location. The zoo began with six acres, a small petting zoo for the children, assorted monkeys, a flight cage designed after the 1906 St. Louis World’s Fair, and a chimpanzee named Benji. In 1976, the Montgomery Zoo hosted its first fundraising event entitled Zoo Day. This initial event grew to become an annual event and is now called Zoo Weekend. Today, an average Zoo Weekend will host as many as 18,000 guests. In 1989, ground-breaking took place expanding the zoo to 40 acres. After two years of construction, the community welcomed a new zoo in 1991. Barrier-free and multi-species exhibits highlighted the expansion, as well as the zoo being divided into five continental realms: Africa, Australia, Asia, North America and South America. Since then the zoo has continued to grow and expand. In 1992, the cougar and lynx exhibit was opened in North American realm, the Reptile House, jaguar, and ocelot exhibit were completed in South America; and the new chimpanzee and colobus monkey exhibits opened in the Africa realm. In 1993, the Bengal tiger exhibit opened in the Asian realm with one white and one orange tiger. In 1995, the bald eagle exhibit opened in North American realm and Monkey Island was completely renovated in South America. In 1996, the American black bear exhibit opened and the first baby cheetah was born. A few years later in 1998, the maned wolf and Indian rhino exhibits opened. In 1999, the new front gate entrance and gift shop opened. In 2003, the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum was completed and opened on zoo property. In 2004, the African elephant exhibit opened, housing three female elephants. In March 2008, the North American river otter exhibit opened featuring two river otters and an additional habitat for an alligator snapping turtle. In June 2010, the zoo opened the Giraffe Encounter and feeding stations at the river otters and koi fish ponds. The following year, both the Parakeet Cove and Horse Trail Rides were added as animal encounters. In August 2012, the Zoofari Skylift Ride was completed. Two months later, the Birmingham Zoo's two male lions, Baron and Vulcan were displayed in their exhibit at the African realm. Two years later, these two lions were sent to Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo to breed with Woodland Park Zoo's two lionesses. The new American alligator habitat opened with four bachelor males in summer 2014.
The Australian Realm is viewed from a boardwalk. Although it originally displayed Australian animals, it is currently in a state of redevelopment. This exhibit opened with red kangaroo, wallaby, emu, black swan, cereopsis, and magpie goose. The small seasonal exhibit, which formerly housed Komodo dragons, and later warthogs and aardwolf, currently houses a red river hog.
Current occupants of the larger paddock include:
The zoo is home to a large Asian hoofstock exhibit. It is home to many iconic Eurasian species.
There are habitats for the Bengal tiger and Indian rhinoceros. The first baby rhino for the zoo was a male born October 1, 2007. The first Indian rhinoceros ever born by artificial insemination was born on June 5, 2013.
The African Realm is the most expansive exhibit in the zoo. The African elephant habitat was opened in 2005 with three female elephants. It includes waterfalls, a large pool, a barn with a flexible design to allow for the separation of individuals, and several enrichment items scattered across the exhibit that change on a regular basis. Across the pool from the elephants are the hoofstock. This exhibit has several viewing stations, including a double-decker viewing platform.
This exhibit displays:
- Grant's zebra
- Greater kudu
- Pygmy hippopotamus
- Grey crowned crane
- Marabou stork
- Slender-horned gazelle
- Dama gazelle
The Old World Aviary is also seen from the Overlook Cafe and is adjacent to the giraffe feeding post. It is home to a variety of African birds and a mammal species:
The African Realm is also home to the siamang (indigenous to Asia), chimpanzee, Günther's dik-dik, lion, striped hyena, and cheetah. All are housed in separate enclosures, except the cheetahs and hyenas who alternate on the same display.
South America is the original and oldest section of the zoo. It utilizes what remains of the petting zoo that originally opened at the zoo's current location in 1972. The enclosures here are more antiquated, and this section is full of smaller, more traditional and less modern exhibits.
- Sloth bear (indigenous to Asia)
- Toco toucan
- Military macaw, blue and gold macaw, scarlet macaw, hyacinth macaw
- Squirrel monkey
- Spider monkey
- Emperor tamarin
- Geoffroy's tamarin
- Golden lion tamarin
- Titi monkey
- Maned wolf
- Giant anteater
- King vulture
- Andean condor
- Chilean flamingo
- Black-necked swan
The zoo also has a Flight Cage that is made to resemble the 1904 World's Fair Aviary.
- Scarlet ibis
- Grey peacock-pheasant (indigenous to Asia)
- White-faced whistling duck
- Ringed teal
- Wood duck
- Yellow-bellied slider
The Reptile House is in this section of the zoo. It has several specimens of reptiles and amphibians found throughout the world. None of the species are venomous.
- Rhino ratsnake
- Hognose snake
- Pancake tortoise
- Emerald tree boa
- Grey-banded kingsnake
- Blood python
- American alligator
- Yellow monitor
- Dwarf caiman
- Reticulated python
- Panther chameleon
- Tentacled snake
- Madagascan tree boa
- Solomon Islands skink
- Mossy frog
- Borneo eared frog
- African bullfrog
The North American exhibit is full of several species of hoofstock that can be found in Alabama and other parts of the United States.
In 2003, the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum was purchased by the Montgomery Area Zoological Society and moved to the Montgomery Zoo. The collection of large animals on display was taken with bow and arrow by trophy hunter George Mann. Guests visiting the Mann Wildlife Learning Museum are able to touch and feel the furs and antlers of some of the animals on display. The animals are in a three-sided displays so you can walk up close and see the animal and their habitat. All the displays are assembled from natural material and actual plants, rocks, trees, dirt and sand collected from the actual site where the display animals lived. There is also a fish room, where many species of mounted fish are on display; including stingrays, sharks, marlin, blue fin and a killer whale.
The zoo has added more hands-on animal encounters within recent years. Feeding stations are located at the North American river otters and the Asian koi fish pond. The zoo also has a Giraffe Encounter Post located at the giraffe exhibit in the African realm. Parakeet Cove is another recent edition, built in 2012. Feeding sticks for the budgies may be purchased here. Parakeet Cove is located in the Australian realm near the entrance of the Zoofari Skylift Adventure Ride. The petting zoo features a collection of pygmy goats, ducks, and llamas. Feed for the petting zoo animals may be purchased here. It is located in the playground area in the Asian realm of the zoo. The zoo's two male lions go through a training session with keepers at 1:30 pm daily. The keepers also host an elephant talk. This question and answer session takes place daily at 2:30 pm at the double-decker African viewing station.
Plans are currently being made for a butterfly pavilion to be constructed, in honor of those with breast cancer.
The zoo is also in the planning and fundraising phase for a future touch-and-feel stingray exhibit.
- "Zoo History". montgomeryzoo.com. Montgomery Zoo. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
- Oak Park and Montgomery Zoo (ISBN 0738553115)