Wild Animal Safari unveils new exhibits, providing more interaction with animals

Published 10:30 am Friday, May 26, 2023

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By: Olivia Johnson

On Tuesday, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Wild Animal Safari’s new and updated walkabout exhibits for lemurs, macaws, singing dogs and an interactive aviary.

“We have a new lemur exhibit, that features an outdoor portion with a glass front to really let the guests get up close and personal with the lemurs. We also have a new outside area for our macaws, and a new interactive aviary with budgies, where people can go in and interact with them,” said Katie Harrison, Wild Animal Safari director.

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Lisa Brady, president and CEO of Parks America said the unveiling of the new exhibits is the start of the new growth of the park.

“I stepped into this role in November and as we looked at this park, it has such potential. We’ve been working on a master plan to upgrade the walkabout throughout to make the exhibits bigger, with better habitats for the animals and more interaction for our guests. With these two new exhibits, guests can get up close and personal, which is really our secret sauce,” Brady said.

“I think these two new exhibits are an example of where we’re headed as a company and celebrating the survival of the tornado and the team and the community coming together. We felt this was a great opportunity to invite the community out and to celebrate this milestone with us.”

Earlier in March, the zoo had to close down for three weeks because of tornado damage.

Harrison said it’s been incredible to be back open and to feel the support of the community.

“The tornado was a very devastating event but being able to pop back so fast, and being able to open up some new stuff that we were already working on is really incredible. We’re excited to be open and share the experience with our guests again,” Harrison said.

“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions since the tornado — it just was so much devastation. There’s been a lot of ups and downs so, it’s really special to celebrate with the community and our whole team as well,” Brady said.

Brady said since the tornado hit, the number of visitors at the park hasn’t quite been the same, but it’s close to getting back to where it was.

“We’ve been trying to get the word back out there that we’re open, but the number of our guests has been steadily increasing. We’re back to normal, and we’re getting there,” Brady said.

Harrison said since the tornado hit the community has been supportive in helping them get back to normal.

“From day one, when the tornado hit, we were getting calls and Facebook comments. Some people even just came up here to help clean up. The outpouring of support we’ve gotten from the community has been amazing,” Harrison said.

As the new exhibits open, Brady said there are more exhibits in the works.

“We have multiple new exhibits that we have been working on that will demonstrate the standard that we’re striving to achieve going forward, where the enclosures are bigger, the habitats are more natural and more interactive for guests,” Brady said. “The tornado accelerated a lot of the plans that we already had to refresh and update. We’re going to be working to add this level of quality, exhibit and habitat as we rebuild the rest of the walkabout section.”