15 Reasons to Visit the Louisville Zoo
There's no shortage of fun to be had in Louisville, Kentucky, but if you're in the area, there's one experience you don't want to miss. The Louisville Zoo is a must-see for kids and adults alike, with a number of one-of-a-kind exhibits and features families adore.
The following are just a handful of the reasons we'd gladly spend an entire day visiting this epic animal paradise.
The Louisville Zoo Has More Than 1,200 Animals
Yes, 1,200, including polar bears, grizzlies, pygmy hippos, orangutans, bright green tree snakes, boas, lions, giraffes, tigers and penguins. We could keep going, but the surprise is half the fun!
Take a sneak peek at their current exhibits if you're too impatient.
It’s Not Just Good for Entertainment. It’s Good for the Planet, Too!
Some zoos exist just to amuse human beings. In a world battling climate change and habitat loss, that doesn't cut it anymore. The Louisville Zoo is committed to assisting with international conservation efforts, particularly with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs.
It's actually one of just a few zoos and animal sanctuaries in the world to have a captive breeding population of North America's most endangered mammal, the black-footed ferret. And judging by how cute they are, we can see why they're so important to save.
Their Gorilla Forest Is One of a Kind
There's no other place in the U.S. where zoo-goers can see gorillas on a whopping 4 acres that mimic their natural habitat. The gorilla forest has won numerous awards going back all the way to 2003, and it's just as cool to visit today.
Explore the Discovery trail to meet nine western lowland gorillas and several pygmy hippos.
And the HerpAquarium Even Has a White-Scaled American Alligator
Don't go into the HerpAquarium if you're not a fan of critters with scales. Since they're all safely behind glass, however, we highly recommend getting over your heebie-jeebies and visiting the alligators, giant boas, frogs, geckos and piranhas. There are also vampire bats hidden down a mock mine shaft. Spooky.
The highlight is definitely King Louie, an albino alligator that's pure white.
The Louisville Zoo's Behind-the-Scenes Tours Are Amazing
The zoo offers a number of unique, up-close-and-personal animal experiences, including visits with a sloth and tours in the Giraffe House and Glacier Run. While the behind-the-scenes tours are sold out for now, they'll be back soon.
Visitors can also sign up for a private encounter with small animals with 30 minutes of one-on-one time with wild creatures that are safe enough to handle.
There's a Splash Park
Days at the zoo can get pretty tiring, especially when it's a scorcher. Cool off at the zoo's built-in splash pad before you head home.
Don't forget to bring your swim trunks and a towel!
...And a Carousel and a Ropes Course
Lots of zoos have carousels, but do they have a carousel with poison dart frogs to ride? And a family-friendly ropes course? And a playground?
We thought not.
Did We Mention the Petting Zoo?
The African petting zoo is a step up from average petting zoos.
You can touch wallabies and a number of other cool creatures, like friendly and soft Nigerian dwarf goats.
The Louisville Zoo Also Offers, Wait for It ... Camel Rides and Giraffe-Feeding
Ever wanted to feed a camel? Or ride one? You can do that at the Louisville Zoo for just a few bucks, plus feed giraffes that are taller than trees.
It's subject to the cooperation of the animals, of course, but it's totally worth trying if the day is right for it.
Visitors Can Even Catch a Movie During Their Visit
On summer weekends, visitors are invited to watch movies out on the zoo's expansive lawn.
The showings change week to week, so check out what's coming up before you go.
Or See the Whole Zoo Decked Out in Lights
Movies aren't the only fun events you can catch at the zoo.
There are tons of animal-centered shows, plus drawing lessons, an annual Boo at the Zoo event, holiday lights, a 5K through the zoo grounds and even a "Butterflies and Brews" after-hours event for the grownups.
There Are Strollers and Wheelchairs for Rent
While Louisville residents are probably content to bring their own strollers, those coming from out of town love the convenience of having inexpensive strollers to rent.
There are single strollers, double strollers, wagons, wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs available to make your visit as convenient and comfortable as possible.
The Louisville Zoo Has Surprisingly Good Food — Now With Mobile Ordering
What's a day at the zoo without a treat or two? In addition to tasty snacks like soft serve, cotton candy, Dippin' Dots and slushies, visitors can grab a burger and wine or beer at Wild Burger, or have a sit-down meal at the African Outpost. Their artisan flatbreads and grilled chicken sandwiches are even available for mobile order and pickup.
No more waiting in line in the hot sun.
The Zoo Is Also Designed to Be Sensory Inclusive
The Louisville Zoo is officially KultureCity Sensory Inclusive Certified. That means they're committed to providing guests with sensory issues, like those with hearing or vision loss, PTSD or autism, with a safe and enjoyable experience.
Sensory bags are available to check out free of charge, with noise-reducing headphones and other items that help both adults and kids with sensory issues to avoid sensory overload in the busy zoo environment.
Plus, Pretty Much Everyone Has a Good Time
The reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor are overwhelmingly positive. For example:
"This is an awesome zoo, and you see why it was ranked 12th in USA Today's Readers' Choice Awards, Best U.S. Zoo. It has every animal that you could possibly want and more. It opened in May of 1969 and spans 135 acres. It is a very clean park and their staff is very friendly." — Tank G., Yelp
"It was so nice, we went twice. There is a large variety of animals, and it’s very spread out. You definitely want to have comfortable shoes on!" — Melissa, TripAdvisor
To learn more about the zoo or see current exhibits, hours and pricing, visit its website.
For more fun zoos to visit, see some of our top picks: