I grew up with the Birmingham Zoo - It has aged far better than I have --lots of changes since I was a child - from a small children's area up on the hill across the lot with small white wooden fences to slide in to and play with bunnies and turtles - to today's splash pad, trails, merry go round, exhibits and other fun activities. Besides the merry go round, there is also a train - both for an extra fee but there is so much to see included in the price of admission. The Children's Area has a barn complete with farm animals and a natural Alabama forest and wetlands to see things we don't always see or notice that is local to our region. There is a reptile house, seal pool, areas for water fowls, and turtles, fish, * alligators. A large primate building, Another building with large cats, and small creatures that weaves around and educates you as you go - a close up look on the inside looking out at Eagles and their nests.
A hoofed animal section. There are often chances to ride a camel or and elephant. You can climb up and feed giraffes - think these do have a fee. There is another building where elephants, hippos and rhinos can be inside or out. An area near there where cheetahs can run. Buffalo and llamas are their neighbors. A seasonal butterfly house to walk in and also a bird aviary you can enter and feed the birds at the right time. Lots of nice paths to walk and also some indoor places to get in out of the Southern Sun which can get warm. - there is industrial things such as fences and lighting but also some water elements and beautiful floral and greenery. There are special programs to see during a regular visit and also special programs after hours. It is in a beautiful older area that was once very affluent in the city.-very Old South in a city fashion. Large trees shade the road bringing you in. Once you enter the parking lot there is usually plenty of spots to park and a short walk to the front gates. Once inside the Flamingo's will greet you and you can find a small gift shop near there on your way out to take home a memory of your visit. There are lots of other little areas hidden you will find as you follow the sidewalks - be sure to get a map so you won't miss anything. There are also some snack areas to stop and take a break. After your visit right as you exit the Zoo property - you might catch a glimpse thru the trees of the Birmingham Botanical and Japanese Gardens. - If you still have some energy to walk and enjoy nature - this is a 'let's do too' spot. It is free - and has several structured and natural areas. They are working in 2013 on the greenhouse that has been a focal point since it first opened = not sure when the repairs will be finished and it be reopened - but there are roads and trails all around - lovely nature area, designed for ferns and another for a rhododendrons and just a nice path by a creek bed. The Japanese area will have you feeling your have crossed to the Orient . Also if in the area a very short drive to Vulcan. One of the largest statues in the nation - maybe second to Statue of Liberty and we even have a small one of those in town too. When I was a child when we had an open weekend day or relatives came to town - time permitting we made all three - the Zoo, Gardens and Vulcan - all which have grown and aged very way - worth a visit.
The Zoo is great for any group collection - families, couples, friends, business breaks, or all alone. If you just walked thru and didn't tarry much at any one area you could get thru in maybe and hour and half - but if you have children and want to give them some good play time you could easily be there 2-3 hours or more. That area has tables and food concessions near by - some shade and some interactive areas. Bring extra clothes or swimwear for them to have the freedom to get wet and messy - can also be times with the bubbles and foam is filled with children squealing. They also have special exhibits and themes so check out their webpage to see what you might expect - in 2013 for the Summer the trails were filled with Dinosaurs staring and roaring at you. At Christmas it becomes filled with lights and Seasonal Fun at night. Zoo Light Safari is a tradition and so is Boo at the Zoo during October.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.