Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo celebrates one year at new location despite COVID-19

Baldwin County

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — In 2020, The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo moved from its original location into its new site, cutting the ribbon on March 11. Seven days later, they had to close because of the pandemic, but they have survived and great things are on the horizon.

Spring is all about new beginnings. After 2020, The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is ready: “It’s been quite the challenging year.”

Zoo Director Joel Hamilton had never seen anything like it. A week after opening the new park they were forced to shut down for nine weeks because of COVID-19. They re-opened to the public on May 23. “We had people come back but we had all kinds of restrictions and regulations on what we could and couldn’t do and what we could and couldn’t open,” Hamilton said.

But “The Little Zoo That Could” did it again, “until September when little Miss Sally came through and closed us for another 10 days,” Hamilton said.

All that, they hope, is behind them now. “It’s a very impressive zoo,” says first-time visitor Rebecca Poire. “People that are local should definitely come out here but of course our Gulf Coast visitors should as well.”

If they do, they will see what resiliency looks like. “To look at it positively, it enabled people to reflect on priorities and what’s important, and thank goodness we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Robert Piore said.

New exhibits and encounters will come online in the coming weeks and months at the zoo with a new outlook one year later. “It is looking up,” says Hamilton, “and each day looks better and better and giving us more hope.”

In all, the zoo was only open for seven months last year, but they were able to keep their core full-time staff, and in the coming weeks and months, they will start building their sustainable garden and open a new aviary, and kangaroo and sloth encounters.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Videos

More Video

More Local News

Trending Stories