Field Trip: Zoo Atlanta

Yesterday we took a field trip to Zoo Atlanta. I hadn’t been since I was about Kathryn’s age! Ken was able to come with us, too — so in addition to really great company, we also had a great camera man in tow. [Love you, Honey!]

I’m seldom in pictures (especially on my blog), so I feel compelled to include one occasionally. 🙂 This is in front of the flamingo area. It’s weird how mechanical they look when they are skimming the top of the water for food.


We watched Lion King recently, so when we got to the warthogs, we all yelled, “Pumba!” Although I think all of God’s creation is beautiful in it’s own way, I do admit that it’s not easy to find the beauty in a warthog. I did learn that they can run 34 mph if necessary, which is much quicker than it seems their legs could carry them! Since we’d seen Pumba, we had to look for Timon! Which meerkats do you think are cuter?


Back in the 1984, Zoo Atlanta was named as one of the worst zoos in the world. Then came a vast revamping, and the zoo re-opened with great reviews. Most notable was the gorilla enclosure. Willie B, a gorilla who had spent thirty years of his life in a tiny room with only a tire swing and a black-and-white television, was finally able to be outdoors. Though zookeepers were unsure of how well he could socialize with other gorillas, he did amazingly well and even fathered five babies before his death in 2000. We enjoyed seeing the youngest member of the gorilla troop with his mama.

A life-sized statue of Willie B commemorates his life.

statue of gorilla Willie B at Atlanta Zoo

There were some amazing birds in various enclosures. One of our most entertaining moments was when the girls figured out that the peacock pheasant would follow them back and forth, even if they ran back and forth as fast as they could. It was hilarious; would’ve been the perfect time for a video camera! This stood out as Kathryn’s favorite animal of the day.

The petting zoo was really just a bunch of goats, but we love goats, so that was okay. I had goats years ago, and we’ve conspired to figure out how to have them again. (Pesky neighborhood covenants!)


We have often joked that Lacy the WonderDog is part kangaroo because of how she runs and leaps, and how she sleeps. After seeing the red kangaroos at the zoo, we are totally convinced that somehow, there really must be a kangaroo in Lacy’s ancestry!

One of the pandas was out and active. In a gross-but-interesting aside, it pooped while we were there, and we were all amazed that it looked like compressed hay. I don’t think I’d have guessed what it was if I hadn’t seen where it came from.


This is one creature we were very glad NOT to have met on our trip to Africa: the black mamba snake. Highly aggressive and highly poisonous. I’m happy to see it through the glass but not in the wild, thankyouverymuch.


Not long into our day at the zoo (which I’ve posted somewhat out of order), we came to the elephants. I thought back to the elephants I saw in Africa, including that family of elephants walking by at dusk, leading their little ones, and our close-encounter with the big bull elephant in the pitch blackness of the African night. I was heart-broken for the elephants at the zoo.

I remembered the black rhino we saw, and how far we went bumping off-road across the grasses such a long way just to get close enough to see it. She had a young one, so we didn’t go too near. But this was the black rhino at the zoo yesterday.


The lions we saw in Africa made a big impression. Ken took just one photo of the lions at the zoo.

We saw an animal called a tanuki (raccoon dog), which looked like a fat fox. It was in an area we passed several times — and each time, we saw it circling round and round and round the same tree.

Truly, this was a wonderful family outing and homeschool field trip rolled into one. I love doing memory-making things, especially since I sometimes feel like we need to make up for lost years with Lindsey. And while I did enjoy the day, I felt sad for the animals, too. On the way home, we talked about the fact that zoos can serve good purposes. They can help people make connections to animals’ they will never see any other way, and maybe that will encourage people to help protect the animals natural habitats, and be the good stewards of the world. But we also wondered if things could be done differently.

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Charlotte Mason in the City

This looks like a great day and reminds me I have to make a visit to our local big zoo. Like you, though, I have mixed feelings about zoos and wonder if there can be a better way. Perhaps the next generation will figure it out. It’s heartbreaking about the gorilla being in a cage for years – so glad his later years were spent outdoors, at least. And…who knew about panda poop?! Great post that makes me antsy for a family outing of our own.


We will have to visit this once my sister moves.


Love the pictures. I’m thankful you saw that snake through the glass as well….kind of creepy.

When we lived in San Diego we loved going to the zoo. Here in Minnesota we have a great zoo, but (due to the weather) we don’t have as many animals. Your zoo looks great, and looks like it is worth a visit!

Have a great Friday.



So great all of you went. We are due to visit the zoo. Last Friday, my little guy missed his first grade field trip there because of the flu. When lived intown I went there tons with my now 17 year old. Time flies.

Our Country Road

Zoos are for seeing things like Warthogs and snakes 🙂 I remember getting to see some warthogs on my trip to Africa but, thankfully, they were very far away. Apparently they are very dangerous animals. Lovely day at the zoo!


What a great day! I’ll have to catch up on your blog postings, since you’re not linked up to Facebook anymore — although I understand what a distraction it can be!


I can feel the magic of the day through your pictures! I love that you are in the pictures too.


Great pictures! Looks like a fun day. We went to Zoo Atlanta when my oldest was really little, probably close to 10 years ago. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to take him and my girls there sometime.

kathy balman

Gwyn did the Homeschool Zoo Academy classes for the Fall 2011. She loved it and it was awesome to go every month for a few months in a row because they just had the baby boom so it was fun seeing how much the babies have grown each month.