15 Reasons to Take Your Kids to Noah’s Ark: Atlanta’s OTHER Zoo

If you haven’t heard of Noah’s Ark, the non-profit Educational Sanctuary for exotic and farm animals in Locust Grove, you have no idea what you are missing. This beautiful 250-acre property is home to over 1,500 animals. Most of them are brought to “The Ark,” by the Department of Natural Resources, zoos, educational institutions, and the general public, for rehabilitation. In fact, Noah’s Ark rehabs hundreds of animals each year through their Wild Life Rehabilitation program. 

Admission is free. But, tax-deductible donations are appreciated. It takes approximately $33,000 a month to feed and care for the over 100 species of animals. Funded solely by donations and staffed by more than 250 volunteers annually, this unique animal encounter was founded by Jama Hedgecoth in 1978 when she and her family moved to a farm in North Henry County. The animal population eventually grew too large for their home and land. The family and animals moved to the current location approximately 30 minutes south of the airport and downtown Atlanta. In case you still are not convinced that this is a must-see attraction for every family in the metro area, here are 15 more reasons for you to visit Noah’s Ark:

  1. Safe. All exotic animal enclosures are double fenced plus a 16-foot fence surrounds the carnivore enclosures.
  2. Free. As previously stated, entry is free, but tax-deductible donations are greatly appreciated. If you want an up close, behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities, you can book a “Walk on the Wild Side” tour for $75 per person (over age 10). Or spend an entire day in their  $500 “Keeper For a Day” program. This is a hands on experience of what goes into the care and attention of all of the animals.
  3. Designed for families. Outside of the sanctuary is a beautiful picnic area, a huge playground and a food trailer (open Friday and Saturday). Get there early, bring a picnic or purchase food from the truck. Make a day of it. Noah’s Ark is also a popular locale for birthday parties!
  4. Easily accessible. There are paved, stroller friendly walking paths that circle the animal enclosures in a 1.5-mile loop.  
  5. Free roaming fowl. If your kids are infatuated with the peacocks, ducks, and chickens more than with exotic animals, there are birds of all types wandering freely on the property. Just make sure they don’t chase them, please!
  6. Promotes pet education.  If your child has ever begged for a parrot or other exotic pet, they will learn what it takes to care for wild animals – which don’t always make the best pets. Screaming parrots, stinky foxes, and giant tortoises give the first-hand explanation that some animals just don’t make good pets. Kids learn how important it is to do their homework before adding an animal to your family.
  7. Touch. Guests can pet and feed a group of domestic animals called “The Motley Crew.” Miniature donkeys, ponies, emu, goats, sheep, and pigs that have special needs live here instead of in the 80-acre pasture with all of the other livestock. The motley crew really enjoys the attention!
  8. Education. Signs with the animal’s name, the reason why they are at Noah’s Ark, and a brief description of the species are placed outside all of the animal enclosures. Visitors can also browse the website to learn about some of their favorite animals prior to coming to. You can sponsor an animal or buy toys for them, too!
  9. Most animals are usually easy to see. Although all of our rescued animal friends have “hides” where they can get out of view from the public if they wish, most don’t mind respectful human visitors at all and are quite active around them.
  10. “Anna Lou & Angus.” These “baby” bears (they are 2.5 years old but still considered juveniles) are usually very active and always adorable and love to play with each other.
  11. “BLT” enough said! This is the only place in the world where an adult lion, tiger, and bear can be seen living together. A great lesson in diversity and tolerance.
  12. “Lilibby” is how keepers refer to the enclosure next to the BLT. An enclosure with a tigress and lioness named Tiger Lily and Liberty, hence “Lilibby.” 
  13. “Alvin” is -a 70 lb. baboon (retired from a research facility). He has a wild hair style that always catches kids’ attention. 
  14. Unique animals. Coatimundis, Patagonian Cavy, crested porcupines, and kinkajous are just a few of what you’ll see. 
  15. Easy to get to. Simple directions mean less hassle in the car and more time to enjoy the animals and the outdoors (30-45 minutes from downtown Atlanta).
Previous articleI Don’t Feel Like a Mom
Next articleLiterally Don’t Care, Like Literally
Jaime is a former High School English teacher turned child wrangler in Snellville, GA. Moving to Atlanta as an infant, she was raised in Gwinnett and lives there still. She met her husband at that age of 13 and 25 years later they have just celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary. A difficult struggle with infertility treatments blessed them with two girls, ages 8 and 6. Jaime's hobbies include arguing with Kindergartners, doing common core math, reading anything she can get her hands on, knitting, and reheating leftovers. She tries to parent and adult daily while maintaining a sense of humor.