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Zoo History

In its 43 year history, the Louisville Zoo has dedicated itself to the pursuits of education, conservation, scientific study and recreation. Accredited by the American Zoological Association (AZA) in 1980, the "State Zoo of Kentucky" currently exhibits over 1,700 animals in naturalistic and mixed animal settings representing both geographical areas and biomes or habitats. These include: the ISLANDS, the African Veldt, Asian Plains, North and South American Panorama, Aquatics and the Australian Outback. The HerpAquarium features 100 species of reptiles, amphibians and fish from around the world exhibited amidst ecologically balanced habitats. And the 4-acre Gorilla Forest Exhibit features Pygmy hippos and Western lowland gorillas.

And the newly opened Glacier Run provides a truly unique experience where one can visit the animals, talk to the keepers about conservation and become temporarily immersed in life on the tundra. The exhibit recreates the natural habitat for some of the Zoo’s most popular residents including polar bears, seals and sea lions. The town of Glacier Run is modeled after Churchill, Canada, the Polar Bear Capital of the world. A spacious amphitheatre makes viewing the seal and sea lion enrichment demonstrations thoroughly enjoyable. Bear training demonstrations also take place throughout the day.

Of special note are the Zoo's achievements in the areas of animal husbandry, conservation and scientific study for which it has drawn international recognition. In 1988, the Louisville Zoo was the proud recipient of the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for its long-term Woolly Monkey Propagation Program. Other accomplishments include the first successful transfer of an embryo from an exotic equine into a domestic horse.

The Zoo's commitment to working with endangered species, specifically with Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, speaks of its dedication to conservation efforts. It is also one of six institutions in the world to house a captive breeding population of Black-footed ferrets, North America's most endangered mammal.

The Louisville Zoo is also distinguishing itself in the area of education. The innovative MetaZoo Education Center was the first facility of its kind to serve both as a public exhibit and a living classroom. Open year-round, the MetaZoo's many programs led by degreed instructors and trained personnel are developed to serve the needs of individuals, teachers and students of all ages. And in keeping with the advances of technology, the MetaZoo has begun offering classes via tele-conferencing or distance learning as it is called, to students who live so far from the Zoo that actual visits become impractical.

Conservation, education, scientific study and family fun are all key components of the Zoo's mission of bettering the bond between people and the planet.