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Planning for Zoo Atlanta/Georgia Aquarium Visit

Discussion in 'United States' started by King of Komodo Dragons, 4 Sep 2023.

  1. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    Hello! After planning for other 4 years, I am finally able to visit Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Aquarium this winter. So In planning the trip I have a few questions.

    1. Will there be any animals that won't be visable due to winter weather? my main targets are the Giant Panda and Drill.

    2. How busy is the Panda viewing? Is there a best time to view them, either earlier or later in the day?

    3. Other than the aforementioned Drills and Giant Pandas, are their any other rarities I should keep my eyes out for?

    4. For Georgia Aquarium is there a best route to take to see everything?

    5. I've heard the Tiger Shark likes to hide a lot, is there a best time to try and see it?

    6. If anyone has done the swimming with the Whale Shark tour, is it worth it and are you able to bring a gopro?

    I appreciate any and all feedback, thank you!
     
  2. SwampDonkey

    SwampDonkey In the Swamp Premium Member 5+ year member

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    I just did both in July, it was a very nice trip. July weather is way different than the winter, so I can't comment on those parts. The zoo is much smaller than I had anticipated, we were there for around 4 hours (including lunch and the playground).
    We were there about 11:30 on a Tuesday, there were only a few people milling about, nothing of a crowd to speak of.

    The bontebok is not super common (but also not really rare). Don't skip the kids area, there are some interesting side aviaries and small primates in that part of the zoo. Giant otters are not that common, the same for the sun bears (which happen to be next to one another).
    That depends if you are going to do the shows, you have to get a "ticket" for them. It is free, but they "sell out" fast. Being as the whole aquarium routes back to the central area, I don't think that there is a particular route that is better. I can say that it was WAY less crowded before 12PM than after, so I would highly recommend getting there early or late as they stay open pretty late.
    Not when I was there, it was circling around the entire tank, so you could see it at one time or another through all the windows. That said, it did tend to stay in the front 1/2 of the tank more often. That was the first area we went to and we arrived at opening.
     
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  3. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    Thank you!
     
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  4. Lucas Lang

    Lucas Lang Well-Known Member

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    The Tiger Shark always wandering on the top of the tank, it's not difficult to spot it, but it is hard to take a picture.
    The behind Scene tour is wonderful enough I think, you can take amazing picture for the whale shark and Manta
     
  5. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    thank you! I guess I might have to settle with recording the Tiger Shark if I can't get any good photos.

    Unfortunately I can't due the whale shark diving tour due to them not accepting the type of scuba certification I have, but I am still excited for my visit, I am doing the Sea Otter tour now and also am doing the Giant Panda experience at Zoo Atlanta which should be cool
     
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  6. biggest_dreamer

    biggest_dreamer Well-Known Member

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    All of the outdoor tortoises at the zoo will be up, but that's the only seasonal change I've ever noticed. The pandas and drills should both be easily visible. Those aside, I think you're mostly looking at mid-tier rarities for the rest of the zoo as others have mentioned - sun bear, giant otter, bontebok, fossa. There's also a handful of birds and reptiles that I haven't recorded seeing elsewhere, but I also only started keeping track of those very recently compared to mammals so I don't have the best gauge of what's actually rare there. My most recent visit was about a month ago, on a Sunday afternoon, and there was still a minimal panda crowd. Honestly the only time I've ever seen a significant crowd was back when the newest cubs were first put on display.

    It's a real shame they lost both their raccoon dogs and bush dogs within the past few years. They were the real stars of the zoo for me, both for their rarity and their genuine charisma, and replacing them with additional tortoise enclosures and Patagonian maras, respectively, feels borderline insulting.

    For the aquarium, the route I always take is starting with the sharks and working around the lower floor clockwise until the cold water section, following the path through this area to the second floor, doing everything else on the second floor, then coming back downstairs for the whale shark tunnel and final ocean exhibit leading to the exit. Never had any difficulties seeing the tiger shark.
     
  7. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    Thank you! do you remember which birds and reptiles are only at Zoo Atlanta? Shame about the Raccoon Dogs and Bush Dogs, I've seen both of them before but I wish they were way more widespread than they are. I vaguely remember hearing that Atlanta has or had a Hartlaub's Turaco, do you know if they still do?
     
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  8. biggest_dreamer

    biggest_dreamer Well-Known Member

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    I didn't see Hartlaub's turaco anywhere on my most recent visit. The birds and reptiles I added to my life list were:

    Impressed tortoise
    Barbour's map turtle
    Burmese star tortoise
    Eastern Pilbara spiny-tailed skink
    Speckled pigeon
    Western plantaineater
    Guira cuckoo

    Again, I don't have a good sense for whether these are actually rare species or not, so they may all be repeats for you. For all I know, some of them may have been at multiple zoos I've been to before I started logging them.
     
  9. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    thank you!, 4 of those I have not seen, with the Impressed Tortoise and plantain-eater particularly exciting.
     
  10. Torgos

    Torgos Well-Known Member

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    Atlanta is one of my closer zoos. Don't go on a really cold day when drills and some birds will be inside. Only pandas and reptiles have indoor viewing areas, it's very much an outdoor zoo. It's similar for a lot of southern zoos - Nashville, Birmingham, Knoxville, Columbia etc.
    For Georgia Aquarium there isn't a best route but I think it's best to go to Ocean Voyager (whale sharks) last. if you go there first everything seems small by comparison even if it isn't!
     
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  11. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    it's gonna be in the mid 50's when I go, is that too cold for the drills?
     
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  12. SusScrofa

    SusScrofa Well-Known Member

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    I went this past January and the weather was in the 50s and I saw the Drills and all other primates. Really, the only animals off-exhibit were the outdoor tortoises, though some can be seen in indoor areas like SSS. The Arakan Turtle will be the one very rare species you will very likely miss.
     
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  13. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    Ok, thank you!
     
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  14. NAIB Volunteer

    NAIB Volunteer Well-Known Member 10+ year member

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    When you go to the Aquarium, see if you can visit later in the evening. Some days they're open until 9 and it's dead after the last dolphin show at 6. Recommend getting a hand stamp after your otter tour whenever that may be or a quick walk through and coming back to really have an intimate viewing experience.
     
  15. King of Komodo Dragons

    King of Komodo Dragons Well-Known Member

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    I want to say thank you to everyone who gave me advice, I went to Georgia Aquarium on Thursday and Friday and Zoo Atlanta on Saturday.

    for the aquarium I got to see everything I wanted to see, the tiger shark actually came down to the viewing panel one day which was really cool, one of the keepers told me she is slowly getting braver and coming out from the corner she likes. I also learned that they have introduced the Green Sawfish female to their male and they are slowly showing good signs so they hope they will breed in the future. In the River Scout gallery the asian small-clawed otters were off exhibit and an exhibit was totally empty, the keeper there told me it used to be for archerfish but is being turned into an african cichlid tank. The sea otter tour was also fun. Somethign cool that the keeper pointed out was that one of the Pigeon Guillemots had a unusual molt where his body had winter plumage but his wings had summer plumage. Seeing the whale sharks and mantas overhead through the tunnel is an experience i'll never forget!

    for the zoo, I got both my main species targets, the Giant Panda and Drill, sadly due to the rain the pandas couldn't go outside, the tour was nice aswell, got to learn a lot about how intensive keeping Giant Pandas are, but some good news, according to one of the keepers Atlanta like San Diego might be getting another pair in the near future! I was able to confirm that zoo still has Western Plantain-Eaters not Haurtlaub's Turacos, according the keeper, they have never had this species so I must of gotten mixed up with another zoo, they have two plantain-eaters in the aviary across from the rhinos. The zoo I had less luck with seeing everything, the Bontebok, Seal Salamander, Mona Coqui Frog, and a few others were no shows, but still a very fun trip. SSS was slightly disappointing with how many empty exhibits and broken electronic signage there was, hoping that gets improved.
     
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