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This past Saturday, we went to the Atlanta Zoo. I hadn't been there in over 15 years, and it's changed quite a lot since I last went.

I bought the tickets ahead of time from AAA where you can get them for a couple of dollars cheaper than at the gate. The weather was perfect that day - sunny, under 85 degrees, and a cool breeze. Parking was free at the Grant Park/Zoo/Cyclorama parking lot. Since we got there at 10 AM, findind a parking space was not a problem. When we left at 2:30 PM, it was almost impossible for others to find a place to park. At the parking lot, we met the other family from church that we invited to go to the zoo with us.

There's a little walk from the parking lot to the zoo entrance. There were no signs directing where the zoo was, but there were a steady stream of people headed there, so we just followed them. On the way, there was a homeless man sleeping on a bench. About the only thing bad about the zoo is that it's located in a harsh part of town.

After I took a picture of all of us in front of the zoo entrance, my camera got stuck. Somehow the film got jammed. It was the first time it has ever done that. There was no place dark enough for me to open it, so I ended up having to buy a disposable camera there.

The zoo is arranged very well. The walkways are quite shaded and you don't have to walk too far to go between the animals. We weren't able to see all the animals, but did get to see some flamingos, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, gazelles, rhinos, lions, tigers, some exotic birds, otters, and turtles.

After eating lunch at McDonald's inside the park (is there anywhere McDonald's is not at?), we went to see the giant pandas. Lun Lun and Yang Yang are on a 10 year loan from China. Unfortunately, we saw them during their nap time. Next time we should head there first when we arrive. But they do have their own pandacam for online viewing. During the warmer months, they keep them indoors in an air-conditioned room. But not as cold as the pandas would like to avoid the viewing glass from fogging. There are only 7 giant pandas in the US - 2 in San Diego and 3 in Washington DC. In China, it's estimated there are less than 1000 pandas surviving in the wild. The only predator of pandas are humans. Their fur gets $10,000 on the black market. And growing farmlands shrink and divide the panda's environment.

The zoo has an animal petting area that was under renovation. But they did have some goats and sheep that you can pet. They also had a choo-choo train and a merry-go-round that you can ride for $1.50 per person.

Overall, it's a great place to bring kids. Arrive early to get good parking and make a beeline to the pandas and see them first.

Posted: 2002-06-17 11:35:23

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