By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Zoo is the largest in Alabama and averages about 600,000 visitors annually. Here’s what some had to say:
Lawonda Jackson, Columbus, Miss.
“[My two children and I] love coming out and looking at the different animals, the exotic animals, … everything. I love this zoo, particularly because it features a little more interaction. … They have the birdcage, where you can feed the birds and they fly all around you. We love that one, … and we also love the flamingos.”
Thatcher and Ila Worthen, Mountain Brook, Ala.
Ila: “You can come here for two or three hours, have lunch, and make a half–day of it. For a mom, that’s pretty awesome, and your kids are enthralled with everything. … To have a zoo that’s within 15 or 30 minutes is pretty amazing. … [It’s great] to have a zoo right in the middle of Birmingham. … The Birmingham Zoo offers a pretty incredible range of animals.”
Thatcher: “This zoo is such a radical change from when I was young. Where they had Monkey Island and the Concrete Jungle, now you see the grand entrance, … you see a venue where you can [host] 200 people to 1,000 people. … I think it offers now more for adults then it ever has. … It makes the adults want to come back even more. I think it brings the community here. I think anybody that hasn’t come needs to be here.”
Kate Abraham, Birmingham, Ala.
“I think [coming to the zoo] is a fun way to support our city and give our kids exposure to seeing the animals in person. I read a lot of books with my [daughter, Anaiya, 2, and son, Jeremiah, 9 months], so it’s fun to see those animals and characters come to life. … I enjoy getting some exercise by walking around with my kids, and they enjoy seeing different animals.”
Tobithean Alexander, Birmingham, Ala.
“It’s really nice, and it’s adult friendly. There are a lot of places where you can cool off [on a hot summer day] and just have a good time with the kids. I took my sons, [Jeremiah Milton, 7, and Stevon Williams, 2], to ride the camel and feed the giraffe, and they loved it. It gives them a lot to do and a lot to enjoy. … [For parents], it is relaxing, and you have peace of mind when you bring them. You don’t have to worry about any of the outside things that would make you worry.”
Ritina Bailey, Bessemer, Ala.
“All the attractions, the animals, … the petting zoo, … the shows [my daughter and I see]—there’s so much for her to learn. She’s able to learn about the different animals … and just explore nature. We’re out of the house, … [and] … she’s going to learn something.”
Stephanie Boggan, Trussville, Ala.
“I like to bring [my son, Jon, 3, and daughter, Brannon, 1] because they get energy out. … I like to take them outside, so this is the perfect place. They get to learn about animals … [Jon] has learned so much just by us having this (zoo) membership and coming here. We come once a week. … I take them outside at home all the time, but [this is] time away from home.”
Nick and Emma Frances Como, Trussville, Ala.
Nick: “[My daughter, Emma Frances, 9], wants to be a … veterinarian, and she has not wavered since the first time we came here. [I’ve had a zoo membership] for [10 or 12 years], and I’ve brought her since she was probably 6 months old. Before she started school, we would probably come here at least three times a month. [I] like the African Trails because of the open space that is offered so the animals can walk around. It’s beautiful. This is [quickly] becoming my next to favorite place, … and now it’s an open park. [Children] learn conservation, they learn about nature, they learn how to take care of the environment.”
Emma Frances: “I’ve been loving animals since I was a baby.”
Amanda Pittman, Crestwood, Ala.
“My children, [Thomas, 4, and Elle, 2], like the train. We ride the train a lot. In the summer, we visit the splash pad. The zoo offers the children an opportunity to get out and walk around, just get outside and play, and see animals. … We really come here for the train and the splash pad, though.”