Louisville Zoo

Louisville Zoo
Louisville Zoo Front Entrance.jpg
Zoo Entrance
Date openedMay 1, 1969
LocationLouisville, Kentucky, United States
Coordinates38°12′19″N 85°42′19″W / 38.20528°N 85.70528°W / 38.20528; -85.70528Coordinates: 38°12′19″N 85°42′19″W / 38.20528°N 85.70528°W / 38.20528; -85.70528
Land area134 acres (54 ha)
No. of animals1,700
Annual visitors900,000+
MembershipsAZA,[1] AAM[2]
Major exhibitsGorilla Forest, Islands

The Louisville Zoo, or the Louisville Zoological Garden, is a 134-acre (54 ha) zoo in Louisville, Kentucky, situated in the city's Poplar Level neighborhood. Founded in 1969, 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.

The Louisville Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums. During the 2006–07 season, the zoo set an all-time yearly attendance record with 810,546 visitors.[3]

The Louisville Zoo's mission is "To better the bond between the people and our planet".


The Louisville Zoo was founded in 1969, on land acquired by the City of Louisville in the 1960s from the estate of Ben Collins. Much of the initial funding was donated by local philanthropist James Graham Brown.

Opening Day in 1969 mostly had exhibits with four-legged animals such as elephants and giraffes. The zoo also offered a train to take zoo visitors past several exhibits; the attraction operates to this day. Opening Day had some criticism from the general public as a lack of shade was evident throughout the zoo. Over time, tree growth has reduced the problem.

In 1997, a fully restored Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC #49) carousel was added as an attraction.[4]


Western lowland gorilla

The Louisville Zoo has six zones of exhibits: The Islands, Africa, Glacier Run, Australia, South America, and HerpAquarium

Gorilla Forest[edit]

The zoo was awarded the 2003 Association of Zoos and Aquariums Exhibit Award for its 4-acre (16,000 m2) exhibit "Gorilla Forest".[5] The exhibit currently houses 11 western lowland gorillas, five patas monkeys, and two pygmy hippopotamuses.

Inside the circular Gorilla Sanctuary, visitors are separated only by glass and can get nose-to-nose with the gorillas. Several different outdoor vantage points are available from which to see the gorillas playing and relaxing.[6]


Albino alligator at Louisville Zoo, named King Louie

The HerpAquarium features 100 species of reptiles, amphibians, and fish from around the world.

A notable resident of the HerpAquarium is a 6-foot-long (1.8 m) rare white American alligator named King Louie. He is named after King Louis XVI of France, after whom the city of Louisville is also named.[7]

The Louisville Zoo currently houses a group of critically endangered Panamanian golden frogs. The zoo is working to preserve this species of frog from extinction. Their numbers have declined in the wild partly due to the chytrid fungus and habitat destruction.

On March 31, 2006, the zoo added a bachelor group of seven vampire bats obtained from the Philadelphia Zoo, and another 10 males from the Sedgwick County Zoo were added to the group in late May 2006. Eventually, the exhibit will house around 40 bats. The exhibit is designed to look like an old mine shaft. [8]


Sumatran tiger

The zoo has a distinctive zoological exhibit called "Islands", which is the first exhibit in the world that uses a system of rotating a variety of animals into one exhibit. This way, the animals can explore different habitats throughout the day, as they would in the wild. This helps to give the animals needed stimulation and heightens their awareness. Moreover, the exhibit is the first to have natural predator and prey in the same space. It has three outdoor exhibit areas and one indoor area. All animals in this exhibit are endangered or threatened species. The animals on display here change from day to day so that visitors can have a new and different experience with each visit to the zoo. The animals that can be seen in this exhibit include the Sumatran tiger, orangutan, siamang, babirusa, and Malayan tapir.[9]

The Islands Pavilion is an indoor area that houses many species of birds, including the white-throated ground-dove. The zoo was the first zoo in the world to hatch this rare dove in captivity. The first hatchling was born on October 17, 2006, and a second followed on December 1, 2006.[10] Some of the other bird species included in the Islands Pavilion are the Mariana fruit dove, Madagascar fody, and the rockhopper penguin. The pavilion also houses the Rodrigues fruit bat, Cuban crocodile, and Komodo dragon.

Red-necked wallaby

Wallaroo Walkabout[edit]

The new Wallaroo Walkabout that opened in 2007 lets guests walk directly through the exhibit, which is home to the wallaroo and red-necked wallaby, as well as some Australian birds including the kookaburra, blue-faced honeyeater, emu, and tawny frogmouth. Visitors are able to interact with the wallaroos and wallabies if they stay on the walkway.

Lorikeet Landing[edit]

Lorikeet Landing is an Australian exhibit that is a walkthrough aviary filled with several brightly colored birds known as lorikeets. Visitors can feed nectar to the birds right out of their hands. The lorikeet species at the Louisville Zoo are the black-winged lory, green-naped lorikeet, perfect lorikeet, red lory, and Swainson's lorikeet.[11]

Glacier Run[edit]

Finished in early 2011, this 4.3-acre (1.7 ha) outdoor exhibit is based on the theme of an old gold-mining town bordered by a glacier. It features polar bears, grizzly bears, seals, and sea lions, as well as a splash park for children. The splash park opened in 2007, and was the first part of this $25 million exhibit to open.[12][13]

The exhibit also includes classrooms, party rooms available for rental, viewing areas above and below water, and a 200-seat outdoor auditorium for watching animal training demonstrations.

Notable individual animals[edit]

  • Mojo, a patas monkey previously owned by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, was given to the zoo on August 24, 2007, when he became too aggressive to keep as a pet.[14]
  • Scotty, an African elephant born on March 18, 2007, was the first elephant born in Kentucky. Scotty died on May 12, 2010, when he was only three years old, due to severe gastric and intestinal problems.[15][16][17]
  • The Louisville Zoo has hand-raised three baby siamangs—Sungai (from the San Francisco Zoo), Zoli (born at the Louisville Zoo), and Zain (from the Albuquerque Biological Park) after Zoli's parents died of E. coli sepsis and the other two were brought in as companions[18]—and is thought to be the only Zoo to ever hand raise three baby siamangs this young.[19]
  • The zoo is also home to several black-footed ferrets, and participates in the black-footed ferret breeding program. The ferrets are one of the most endangered species in North America.[citation needed]
  • Bakari (whose name is Swahili for hopeful) the Masai giraffe was born on February 17, 2009, with angular limb deformity, and had periosteal stripping[clarification needed] performed on his leg. He is believed to be the first giraffe to undergo this procedure.[20]
  • In June 2013, the Louisville Zoo organized a contest to name the first zebra foal to be born at the zoo in 13 years.[21] The foal was ultimately named Ziva, after the fictional character Ziva David from the television series NCIS.[22][23]
  • On October 23, 2014, the zoo announced that their 11-year-old reticulated python, Thelma, had produced six healthy baby snakes in 2012 without any prior interaction with a male. She is the first known individual of her species (the world's largest species of snake) to have done so in captivity.[24] It had initially been thought that the offspring were produced from long-stored sperm, until genetic testing showed that the neonates were "half clones" – i.e., she was their only genetic parent.[24]


  • The Louisville Zoo offers multiple chances to enjoy the zoo after normal operating hours. One of the most popular after-hours events is the "World's Largest Halloween Party". This event is held on October 31st yearly and is Halloween themed. Another popular event is "Brew at the Zoo", which is an event that brings together local restaurants and craft beer vendors. Live entertainment is also provided. This event is typically in August and regularly sells out.

List of animals
Western lowland gorilla Brown woolly monkey Cottontop tamarin Patas monkey
Orangutan Siamang African lion Cougar
Jaguar Ocelot Amur tiger Grizzly bear
African elephant Asian elephant Addax Hartmann's mountain zebra
Masai giraffe Mhorr gazelle Polar bear Babirusa
Bongo Rodrigues fruit bat Vampire bat Dromedary camel
Black and rufous elephant shrew Black-footed ferret Guanaco Four-toed hedgehog
Pygmy hippopotamus Black-and-white ruffed lemur Meerkat Naked mole rat
Virginia opossum Brazilian porcupine White rhinoceros Rock hyrax
Grey seal California sea lion Malayan tapir Sumatran tiger
Wallaroo Red-necked wallaby Warthog Maned wolf
Malayan tapir Red ruffed lemur Ringtailed lemur Zebra mouse
Spiny mouse Donkey Nigerian Dwarf goat Angora goat
Nubian goat African pygmy goat Three-banded armadillo Snow leopard
Reptiles and amphibians
Chinese alligator Anaconda Bearded dragon Boa constrictor
Rosy boa Panther chameleon Chuckwalla Cuban crocodile
African clawed frog Poison dart frog Argentine tegu Tomato frog
White's tree frog Gila monster Komodo dragon American alligator
Philippine sailfin lizard Western green mamba Andean milksnake Ball python
Calabar python Reticulated python Timber rattlesnake River cooter
Blue-tongued skink Shingleback skink Corn snake Eastern indigo snake
Sonoran gopher snake Western hognose snake Aldabra giant tortoise Desert tortoise
Greek tortoise Star tortoise Chicken turtle Matamata turtle
Musk turtle Razor-back musk turtle Gaboon viper Panamanian golden frog
Grey tree frog American toad Sonoran desert toad Smoky jungle frog
African bullfrog Puerto Rican crested toad Sinai desert cobra Egyptian cobra
Green tree python Eyelash viper Gopher snake Red diamondback rattlesnake
Aruba island rattlesnake Madagascar tree boa Spotted skaapsteker Emerald tree boa
Desert sidewinder Cottonmouth Copperhead African house snake
Red-tailed green ratsnake Angolian python Rough scaled sand boa Prairie rattlesnake
Eastern diamondback rattlesnake Green vine snake Black kingsnake Trans-Pecos ratsnake
Schneiders skink Sandfish Mali uromastyx Madagascan giant day gecko
Sheltopusik Pygmy spiny tailed skink Green basilisk Asian box turtle
Diamondback terrapin Red-footed tortoise Eastern box turtle Red-eared slider
Wood turtle Green iguana Hellbender Alligator snapping turtle
Argentine horned frog California kingsnake Four-lined zonosaur Rock rattlesnake
Tiger rattlesnake Sinaloan milksnake Black rattlesnake Black-tailed rattlesnake
Southwestern speckled rattlesnake Mexican burrowing python Spotted turtle
Mariana fruit dove Pink-headed fruit dove White-throated ground-dove Wompoo fruit-dove
Pink pigeon Jambu fruit-dove Beautiful fruit-dove Caribbean dove
White-crowned pigeon Papuan mountain-pigeon Nicobar pigeon Pied imperial-pigeon
Cinnamon ground-dove Violaceous euphonia Demoiselle crane Red-crowned crane
Wattled crane East African crowned crane Steller's sea eagle Bald eagle
Hawaiian hawk American kestrel African openbill stork Oriental stork
White stork African pygmy-falcon Black winged lorikeet Perfect lorikeet
Green naped rainbow lorikeet Red-flanked lorikeet Rupell's griffon vulture Chilean flamingo
Asian fairy bluebird Blue-gray tanager Bay-headed tanager Eastern screech owl
White-rumped shama Ostrich Greater rhea Emu
Rockhopper penguin Bird of paradise Peafowl Black-necked stilt
Bali starling Masked laughingthrush Inca tern Red-crested cardinal
Madagascar fody Blue-winged leafbird Wattled jacana Yellow-hooded blackbird
Warbling white-eye Golden white-eye Crested wood-partridge Blue dacnis
Egyptian goose Yellow-headed amazon Red-billed hornbill Hawaiian goose
Hyacinth macaw Barn owl Red shoveler Emerald starling
Sun conure Tawny frogmouth Chestnut teal Turkey vulture
Chiloe wigeon Bernier's teal Barnacle goose Bar-headed goose
Coscoroba swan Barnacle goose Southern screamer Blue-faced honeyeater
Kookaburra Bridled white-eye Geen-naped pheasant pigeon Victoria crowned pigeon
Waldrapp ibis Geen-naped pheasant pigeon Black stork Sunbittern
Red-billed leiothrix Swainson's lorikeet Red lory Oriental white-eye
Red-tailed hawk Peregrine falcon Victoria crowned pigeon Yellow-breasted ground dove
Socorro ground dove White-tailed trogon
Bucktooth tetra Green severum Silver arowana Redhook metunnis
African lungfish Banded archer fish Banded lepornus Lookdown
Silver moony French grunt Red-bellied piranha Largemouth bass
Redear sunfish Bluegill African moony Spanish hogfish
Spotted gar Longnose gar Dolphin catfish
Blue bloom birdeater Texas brown tarantula Venezuelan suntiger tarantula
Salem ornamental tarantula King baboon spider Mexican redknee tarantula
Chilean rose tarantula Mexican fireleg tarantula Brazilian salmon pink
Giant millipede Madagascar hissing cockroach Deathstalker


During October, the zoo hosts the "World's Largest Halloween Party", one of the largest Halloween parties in the United States.

The zoo also includes a Zoo Key System. At the front of the park, a key, usually in the shape of an animal, may be purchased. Around the park, visitors can insert these keys into Zoo Key boxes for a song and/or information about the animal.

The zoo has a booth called "Handimals" located by the entrance where kids can make an animal out of their hand prints.

Often when an animal is born in the zoo, the zoo holds a contest where participants send in ideas for names.


On July 1, 1994, a man was picked up and dropped several times by an African elephant named Kenya. As a result of the man's injuries, his spleen and part of his pancreas were removed. The elephant had just finished giving rides to zoo visitors and was being led away when she wandered off and picked up the man. Zoo officials said that the elephant, who was normally considered calm and docile, was just "horsing around".[25]

The New Louisville Zoo train after the 2009 incident

On June 1, 2009, the zoo train derailed. Three open-air cars and the engine went off the tracks and caused the passenger car to topple over, due to excessive speed and operator inexperience.[26] The incident injured 22 people. An Indiana family that was on the train when the accident happened has sued the Louisville Zoo. Amy and Darren Bamforth filed the lawsuit on June 10, 2009. Another family in Louisville who was on the train, also filed a suit. They sought unspecified monetary damages as well as a court order preventing the zoo from altering or destroying the train while the lawsuit proceeds. A spokesman for the zoo declined to comment. The zoo train was closed for four years. On July 2, 2013, the zoo train reopened to the public after buying new trains and investing in expanded training procedures. All legal actions regarding the incident were concluded as of October, 2015.[26]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Museums" (PDF). aam-us.org. AAM. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  3. ^ "Zoo sets attendance record". The Courier-Journal. July 9, 2007. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2007.
  4. ^ "Louisville Zoo, Louisville, KY". National Carousel Association. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "The Louisville Zoo Wins Coveted AZA Exhibit Award". Archived from the original on February 11, 2006. Retrieved September 9, 2006.
  6. ^ "Inside Gorilla Forest". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on January 6, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  7. ^ "Rare white alligator". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on October 23, 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  8. ^ "Furry little blood suckers now at Zoo". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  9. ^ "Islands Rotational Exhibit". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on February 26, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  10. ^ "Media Release, Worlds first captive hatching". Retrieved February 4, 2009.
  11. ^ "Lorikeet Landing". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  12. ^ "City News". louisvilleky.gov.
  13. ^ "Glacier Run". Archived from the original on October 16, 2012.
  14. ^ "Tony Stewart's former pet monkey, Mojo, now resides at the Louisville Zoo". Archived from the original on June 30, 2008.
  15. ^ "Baby Elephant, First to be born in Louisville". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on May 30, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2008. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  16. ^ "Baby elephant Scotty passes away". Fox 41. Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
  17. ^ "Deceased elephants at Louisville Zoo in United States". elephant.se. Elephant Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  18. ^ "Siamang death investigation complete". Louisville Zoo (official website). February 28, 2008. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  19. ^ "Raising Baby Siamangs". Louisville Zoo (official website). Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  20. ^ "Giraffe Baby Update". Louisville Zoo (official website). March 17, 2009. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  21. ^ Bard, Cynthia (June 26, 2013). "The Louisville Zoo would like to introduce...Ziva!". Louisville. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  22. ^ "Young zoo zebra gets name of Ziva". The Courier-Journal. June 26, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  23. ^ "Latest zebra at Louisville Zoo now has a name". WDRB. June 26, 2013. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  24. ^ a b Feltman, Rachel (October 24, 2014). "A virgin birth has been confirmed in a reticulated python – a first for the species". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  25. ^ http://www.mediapeta.com/peta/pdf/Elephant-Incident-List-US-only.pdf
  26. ^ a b Lovan, Dylan (October 1, 2015). "Louisville Settles Zoo Train Accident With Remaining Victims for $6M". Insurance Journal. Retrieved October 2, 2015.

External links[edit]

Media related to Louisville Zoo at Wikimedia Commons