Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Animal Encounters

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Me holding a baby kangaroo in its handmade pouch.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Animal encounters are so fun!

There’s one thing for sure, Gulf Shores, Alabama, knows a thing or two about family adventures. Besides the beautiful white sand beaches they are known for, the city has many other outdoor attractions for families, including the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo animal encounters and their friends. It was a joy to spend time with travel writers, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, and the zoo workers. We were hosted at the zoo for lunch, a zoo tour, and a special kangaroo encounter.

Once known as “The Little Zoo That Could” in a documentary series on Animal Planet, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is far from that. After going through two hurricanes, this zoo has managed to stay alive and well with dedicated employees and brilliant people who care about the zoo. The zoo had to be rebuilt from the ground up, and though they are still working on getting it in tip-top shape, the 199 species, 31 sub-species, and eight endangered species are doing quite well. It’s six miles from the beach, tucked away just off the main highway, and includes Alabama’s first certified green restaurant. Be sure to scroll down to see my special animal encounter with the kangaroos.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Kangaroo Encounter

I enjoyed our tour and the layout of the zoo. Our tour guide, Michelle, knows her stuff, and you can tell she loves her job. See her below holding one of the kangaroos. The zoo workers love their jobs, which made our time there much more special.

Related: Gulf Shores Alabama Outdoors: Things To Do Besides The Beach


This baby kangaroo is such a sweet boy. I think we woke him up from his nap.

Have you ever had a kangaroo encounter at a zoo or any other animal encounter? If so, you know how special they are. When I read that we would have an encounter with kangaroos, I was all in, and it was my number one pick on the list. To be able to touch and hold them is all I wanted. I sincerely met a new friend today.

The three young red kangaroos we saw today are all orphans for one reason or another.

Did you know kangaroos sleep most of the day? The kangaroo above had to be woken up so we could hold him. The zookeeper said he would fall right back asleep when we left.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Animal Encounters

ZooKeeper Michelle holding one of the kangaroos. Michelle has been with the zoo for years through thick and thin, including numerous hurricanes and evacuations. She has a diverse background and knowledge of the zoo and its residents.

Once you pay to enter the zoo, an extra cost for a Kangaroo Encounter at the Gulf Coast Zoo is $19.95 per person — and worth it. You won’t be able to hold one of the kangaroos as she is, but you will in their pouch like I got to do.

Animal Encounters At Zoos

Animal encounters at zoos are becoming a thing nationwide (I hope). It’s a great way for zoos to make extra money for their zoos and for us humans to get hands-on learning experiences about the animals. Getting to interact with animals is truly one of my passions. I love to see animals in the wild; needless to say, I can not touch them, but by getting up close and personal with zoo animals, I can.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo Animal Encounters
Norman and his trainer, Brittney. She knows him very well and all his moves.

Meet Norman – An Eurasian Eagle-Owl at the Gulf Coast Zoo

This was not an actual animal encounter, but it felt like it were. Brittney, one of the zookeepers and Norman’s trainer, loves what she does at the zoo. She has spent over four years with Norman and has built a bond with him. She knows his ins and outs. Can you imagine? We couldn’t get too close because Brittany couldn’t wear a mask. After all, Norman would not recognize her. She told us all about Norman, how she trains him, and how she gets him to do what she wants him to do. Think food!!

Fun Fact: Norman is a large owl and looks quite heavy, but he only weighs 3 lbs. We were shocked when she told us that under all those feathers, his body was quite small.

Safari Club Restaurant next to the entrance of the Gulf Coast Zoo.

Alabama’s First Certified Green Restaurant at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Alabama’s first certified “green restaurant” is found at the zoo. You’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu from local farmers, their onsite garden, and wonderful outdoor seating at the Safari Club restaurant. What you won’t find there are plastic straws and styrofoam.

The restaurant has a separate entrance from the zoo, which means buying a ticket to the zoo is not required to eat a meal at the restaurant. And, while enjoying your meal on the patio, you get to hear the sounds of the zoo! Best concept ever!

I enjoyed my delicious and healthy chicken salad with roasted tomatoes while listening to the lemur scream a time or two (it must have been lunchtime for them too). It was a special treat.

Me feeding a goat…and he was loving it!

This bear wasn’t having it today. He kept pacing back and forth, so I didn’t get a proper photo of him.

I really think we took our tour during feeding time. This lion did not love our visit today. I finally got a photo of him out of his den.

Pepe the Guanaco spits on his keepers – the nerve of him!!

More Animals at Alabama Coast Zoo

As I write my article, I realize that most animals we saw at the zoo are males. Not sure why, and I know there must be females there as well. Ummm.

I’ll leave you with — Spit happens at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Be on the lookout for my next blog post about the awesome Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores. Here it is!

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