ABOUT the Alabama Gulf COAST Zoo
The current Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, located a mile from the beach in the resort town of Gulf Shores, Alabama, is now home to more than 550 exotic animals. Exhibits include: Bengal and Siberian tigers, African and Barbary lions, American Black bears, South American Black leopards, various species of monkeys, Dromedary camels, two islands of ring-tail and red-ruff Madagascar lemurs, a petting zoo, a reptile house, nocturnal exhibit, an aviary with hundreds of tropical and exotic birds, interactive animal encounters and much more…
The zoo originally opened in June 1989 as Zooland Animal Park, a privately-owned local attraction by the Ward Family of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Upon her arrival to the Gulf Coast region of Alabama in 1995, Patti Hall began volunteering at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. She always had a strong affinity with animals, and in 1997, she took over the position of Director at this small community zoo that was financially struggling at the time. She quickly seized the opportunity to transform it into a non-profit animal sanctuary and public education attraction.
Over the ensuing years, Patti's efforts to strengthen the zoo's animal care standards, raise its profile in the community and offer family-friendly animal programs substantially increased revenues. Then deadly Hurricane Ivan struck the Alabama coast in 2004. Under Patti's savvy leadership, they saved over 270 exotic animals, becoming the first American zoo to perform a full-scale, off-site total evacuation in a natural disaster. The zoo facility was over 80 percent destroyed by the storm along with its financial viability. Every effort was made by the zookeepers to feed and care for all of the animals during the 7 weeks they lived at Patti's house, but Patti knew she had to spread the word in the press about their dire circumstances in order to survive in the long run. During the zoo's ongoing efforts to rebuild the facility, their incredible survival story was discovered by a Los Angeles television producer, who then created and produced the 14-part documentary series, The Little Zoo That Could for Animal Planet. Now affectionately known as The Little Zoo, the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is an enormous success and continues to entertain and enthrall both viewers and visitors from around the globe.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is operated by The Zoo Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and a 509(a)(2) charitable foundation under section 170, 2055, 2106 or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. A Board of Directors governs The Zoo Foundation, Inc.