Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to preview Zoo Atlanta's two newest animal programs, Twiga Terrace and Wild Animal Encounters.
My 3 year old great nephew, Johnny, was my date for the day. He was very excited to be so close to the animals.
Twiga Terrace is the new up-close-and-personal giraffe feeding experience. There are four giraffes at Zoo Atlanta; one male, two females and a baby. There are also several zebra and some ostriches in this exhibit.
This terrace was built to give guests the opportunity to hand feed them leaves of romaine lettuce, a regular part of their diet. Johnny loved waving his Romaine lettuce leaf to attract Mona, the mama giraffe or Abu, the daddy!
Because the giraffes are wild, their appetites may vary, so there is no guarantee that they will eat. Even though none of them were hungry this trip, we got a chance to stand eye-to-eye with the Earth's tallest mammals. I'm not sure who was the most curious, us or the giraffes!
Twiga Terrace, which is included with the regular admission price, is open daily from 10am to 2 pm. The only cost is $3 for two pieces of Romaine lettuce, which must be purchased from the Giraffe Guide stationed at Twiga Terrace.
The other new feature at Zoo Atlanta is the Wild Encounters Program. This program allows guests to purchase behind-the-scenes close encounters with their choice of African elephants, giant pandas, a Komodo dragon or all three. Raymond King, president and CEO said," These are truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Inspiring value for wildlife is at the heart of the Zoo's mission. We can't imagine a better way to help our guests get to know the species we care for and protect."
Our first encounter was with Kelly, an African elephant. She flapped her ears and waved hello with her trunk! Her trainer was there to answer all of our questions and we were able to get close enough to rub her side and feel her leathery hide. We also were able to feed her lettuce leaves which she gently took from Johnny's hand. He squealed with joy and said it tickled!
Wild Encounters may be purchased online in advance on www.zooatlanta.org or in person during a regular Zoo visit. African elephant Wild Encounters will run daily at 1:30pm at $75 per guest.
Our next encounter was with Slasher, the Komoda dragon. Again, a trainer was there to tell us about the dragon and answer all of our questions. This was definitely Johnny's favorite! To his delight, after donning gloves and footies over our shoes, he was able to feed the Komado dragon dead mice! (I declined to participate and let Johnny take my turn. He was thrilled and so was I!)
The Komodo dragon Wild Encounter takes place on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays at 12:30pm at $35 per guest. Tickets may be purchased online in advance on www.zooatlanta.org or in person during a regular Zoo visit.
Giant Panda Willd Encounters will run daily at 11am at $150 per guest. All-inclusive programs for all three species will run Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11am at $185 per guest. Program prices do not include Zoo Admission.
Children 3 and under are free, but are not permitted to feed animals. Children 3 to 8 will be allowed to feed the animals with adult supervision and assistance. All Twiga Terrace and Wild Encounters activity times and availability may be subject to change due to weather, animal needs or daily capacity.
Johnny will never forget this experience. It was a very exciting morning and judging from how fast he fell asleep on the ride home, a huge success!
For information about other children's activities, click HERE.