New Africa Opening - main entrance archway into elephant enclosure, with john walczak admiring archway, with elephant in the yard

A Safari Through New Africa

An all-new enhanced and expanded African area is ready for you. Come experience the adventure! Let’s take a virtual tour first…

Your journey begins at the Savannah’s edge with a view of the bongos at play. The large African antelopes with their distinctive auburn and white-striped coat are romping through their new exhibit space and lounging in the sun on the flat grassy terrain. As you look over the barrier to greet the bongos, one snorts at you in response and rubs its large curved horns on a stray log. Nearby sand-colored addax, native to north central Africa, rest in a sand wallow. Welcome to the Louisville Zoo’s African area, a land of enchantment, excitement and education for the whole family.

As you round the bend in the trail, you are greeted by the lifelike “Ely” bronze elephant sculpture created by artist Meg White, a perfect location for a selfie, or ”Elfie” in this case. From the comfortable vantage point of nearby benches in the new garden, you can see an enormous new wall with its East African tribal patterns. Beyond the wall, elephants roll in clay and play in the water. As you venture closer to this stylized, elegant wall inspired by architecture from Mombasa, a city on the coast of Kenya, elephants choose to approach and size you up while you gaze back in wonder. A Zookeeper wanders by to explain that the elephants may now choose to press a button with their trunk to spray themselves or passersby with water. What a temptation. Suddenly, you are misted with cool water from the spigot above the gate!

Camel-Ride2016_01Continue along the trail and you are entranced into trying a whole new experience and adventure — a camel ride! Large, trained dromedary camels are waiting to transport you and your traveling companions on a short expedition. As you climb onto the camel and situate yourself in the saddle located behind the camel’s characteristic one hump, you realize how tall they really are. Then, you sway back and forth on this majestic ship of the desert and grin madly for a friend with a camera!
Getting your land legs back, you watch a giraffe feeding nearby or better yet, you join the feeding party. The Masai giraffes lumber over and gather, and using their amazing long purplish tongues, they eat browse (tree branches) right from your hands. You decide it’s time to journey on — and to get a closer look at the Hartmann’s mountain zebras as they run and frolic with wild abandon.

DSC_1783As you travel along the wall of painted petroglyphs featuring stylized drawings of animals, the Toyota safari vehicle calls to kids like a siren — they race to climb in and peer out the driver’s side window that is actually positioned inside the zebra exhibit. Several zebras approach the vehicle to investigate the giggling children. The two groups curiously examine each other, nose-to-nose, separated by only a window pane!

You hear the enthusiastic and rather unruly beating of drums nearby. You spot a lively
cluster of inspired young Zoo visitors trying out the African percussion instruments located around the corner near the African Outpost restaurant. Your gang doesn’t want to pass up the chance to create their own drum circle. As you tap your drum in the shade of the canopy above the conga and the marimba, the drumming rhythm feels more like a soundtrack for your group adventure.
With a wave goodbye to your new zebra pals, you take a short stroll to the African Outpost to grab a snack or the daily special for lunch. You snag some prime seats in the shaded outdoor deck, kick your feet up and fully enjoy the cinematic setting. From your comfortable seat, you watch the Hartmann’s mountain zebras now galloping across the savannah. You hear the roar of a lion and see it in the distance, in no doubt of its status as king of the beasts. With such a vista before your eyes, you truly feel the power of Africa. It’s been an incredible journey— and many more adventures await you throughout the rest of the Zoo!

You’ve now had an ideal tour through the new Africa exhibit! These sights change daily. The best way to experience all of the adventures is with a Zoo membership — your Frequent Fun Pass!

Special thanks to the Harry Frazier Family and all Leadership Capital Campaign donors for their help in making this journey a reality for Zoo guests this season.