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North Georgia Zoo Review

Discussion in 'United States' started by BedildaSue, 19 Aug 2015.

  1. BedildaSue

    BedildaSue Well-Known Member

    29 Jan 2014
    Homewood, AL 35209
    Good day, all! I went to the North Georgia Zoo in Cleveland, Georgia this weekend and had never seen a word about it posted on this forum, and thought I'd post a review. Unfortunately, I have no pictures, because my phone had died and I use it as my camera. Also unfortunately, this turned out to be one of those zoos that, like snowleopard, Zoochatters visit "so no one else has to". :p

    I came across this zoo by accident, actually. We were looking for another one in a similar area and got the names of the zoos confused, and ended up at this dump. It is certainly not accredited, and seems to run under the principle that the more random dog toys and children's playgrounds you have in an exhibit, the richer the enclosure.

    First things first, admission is STUPIDLY expensive. If you only want to visit the petting zoo, it's $5-6, but if you want to see the "good stuff", it's $23. That's more than what I've paid at all except the best zoos I've been to, like San Diego and Bronx. They have several options available for you to spend 15 minutes with an animal such as a lemur, wallaby, fennec fox, or wildcat, which go up to $54.

    The petting zoo is a mess. Size is not an issue with every enclosure, but the cages are placed haphazardly and there is poop everywhere. There are about a thousand sheep and goats, a cow, five to six African spurred tortoises on a sloped exhibit with an old sidewalk passing through the middle, a dromedary camel in a long, very narrow enclosure, a baby fallow deer in a *TINY* circular fenced enclosure (as in, big enough for it to take three small steps in each direction), a juvenile grey wolf pup in a kennel (!!!), some pigs, llamas, alpacas, ducks, donkeys, and two cages for pigeons and mourning doves - terrible conditions for the latter, as there were about fifty birds in each cage. There was a standard budgie feeding exhibit, but that was extra of course. Apparently they had a yak and water buffalo too, but I didn't see them. Probably extra for those too. This zoo likes to make a lot of money, apparently. In addition to the high costs, they sell their farm animals, especially rabbits and chickens.

    The worst two exhibits I saw here were an American alligator in a tiny cage with NO ROOM TO SWIM AT ALL. There was a small boat in there that was filled with water, but the alligator probably couldn't fit inside of it if he desired, much less swim. Next to it was a green iguana exhibit that only stretched as long as the iguana's body in all directions. Luckily, we were not allowed to pet these reptilians.

    I saw the entire petting zoo in ten minutes and was ready to go, and became infuriated when I was told that the "Wildlife Walk" (what I paid $23 for) was not just an area with more animals but rather a guided tour that didn't start for another hour and 30 minutes. I had people with me, so I couldn't just up and leave, so we stuck it out. While the tour had some interesting animals, as well as several lifeticks for me, all were in subpar conditions.

    The first encounter was for two African crested porcupines, and was basically just a dirty fenced-in yard (if you could even call it a yard!) with a doghouse (their shelter) and a log in it. There was no space between this exhibit fencing and the next for a solitary North American beaver. It did not have any water in it except a drinking bowl, and the guide stated this was because beavers don't actually like to swim.

    Across the way was a large kennel for a "rescued" weeper capuchin that had been mistreated by a former owner and forced to wear a diaper. This poor monkey! First a bad home, now a bad rescue center. Next to the monkey were two collared peccaries, each in separate muddy exhibits and each about the size of my queen bed.

    The interesting thing about this zoo though, I will say, is that although the enclosures were terrible, all of the animals LOVED the guide. Whether he had food or not (most of the time he did, which may be the reason for the following), animals would approach the fence and show off. This includes animals like the porcupines, which are normally asleep in zoo daylight hours. Also, despite the small cage sizes and high energy level of the animals, not one of them seemed to display any stereotyped behavior.

    Next was a dark cage for two white-nosed coatis. Small as well, though not as big a crime as some others. Further on down the path was a large exhibit for two wallaroos, followed by large ones for Reeves's muntjac, fallow deer, and a mixed exhibit for red kangaroo and Bennett's wallaby, including one albino. Although the enclosures were a fair size, they all contained weird objects, like a plastic take-apart children's playscape. Can anyone tell me when a kangaroo will use this, even for enrichment?!

    The largest exhibit was a woodsy, sloping one for grey wolves. This one was not shockingly awful, and the guide had taught them to howl for us, which was pretty cool.

    In this area were two ramshackle exhibits for two Harris's hawks and a turkey vulture, and one of the worst habitats I've ever seen for a lowland paca. It had NO natural substrate, not even dirt! The exhibit had clearly been made on a deck of some sort, and it had no hiding places or areas to rest, unless you count a toy box that it could technically fit in or behind. Poor creature. This was one of my lifeticks, but it made me sad to see him in these conditions.

    And then, on to the cats! Cages for two servals, a puma, a Siberian lynx, and a binturong were located here. Obviously all way too small for the cats, but at least they had reasonable enrichment items....the binturong had a picnic table with a tent on top, which made no sense to begin with but was exacerbated by the fact that the guide kept going on about how arboreal they were. Then give them something to climb on, *******!

    The most surprising animal held here were two (maybe three?) New Guinea singing dogs, all of whom sang for us.

    We were then taken to the weirdest mixed species exhibit I've ever seen, passing a tiny cage for two golden pheasants on the way. It was an approximately 8 foot tall for one white-handed gibbon and two basset hounds. The gibbon was fun, as it kept making loud whooping vocalizations (probably to say help me!) and then swinging around in its very limited space. Since there was almost nothing in the exhibit, he used the fence he was contained in to swing rapidly in circles.

    Nearby were two exhibits for a fennec fox and ring-tailed lemurs. The fox was on a deck with no sand (but he had a child's playhouse and a ball!) and the lemurs were in tall but absurdly narrow cages, and all were very fat for lemurs.

    There were tiny (and I mean TINY) exhibits in this area too for trumpeter hornbill, barn owl, blue-and-gold macaws and a military macaw, red-legged seriema (this one only had room to stand), and red-crested turacos. The yard itself (and all of the exhibits from the gibbon to now) did appear to be a backyard, with the cages placed slapdash throughout.

    Next was the hands-on portion of the show, where the guide brought out African pygmy hedgehog, long-tailed chinchilla, and a Dumeril's ground boa for us to pet. That part was pretty neat, I had never petted a chinchilla before and had no clue their fur was that soft!

    On our way to the final exhibit, we passed a mixed species exhibit for wild turkey, Indian peafowl, Reeves's muntjac, and several Patagonian maras (what the eff is this combination?) and then came to the last stop, a pitiful weedy-looking yard for two Grant's zebra.

    They had a reptile house too, but it cost two dollars to go in per person so we skipped that of course.

    Conclusion: The North Georgia Zoo is crappy. I have no idea how it obtained several of its animals (binturong, singing dogs, white-handed gibbon) as it obviously cannot and will not ever provide them enough space or resources to live in proper conditions. It is also out in the middle of nowhere, so you will probably not have cell phone reception.

    Feel free to ask any questions! :p Hope you enjoyed reading my sad little review.
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

    1 Dec 2007
    Abbotsford, B.C., Canada
    A very entertaining review! "I visit 'em so you don't have to" has become my phrase during the past couple of summer road trips that I've been on but it sounds like this place might not even qualify for a "Snowleopard" visit. Ugh.