The Zoo provides encounters with some of the most beautiful and bizarre creatures with which we share the planet. Among them are dozens of species native to Alabama. Some are fierce and feared, like the American Alligator and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Others are symbols of industry (North American Beaver) or freedom (Bald Eagle). Among the natives on display is arguably the most playful of all species – the North American River Otter. A few are species living in our neighborhoods – including the Bobcat, North American Raccoon, and Virginia Opossum. Usually we catch sight of them at the margins of our yards and streets at night, but at the Zoo you can meet them face to face. Several native birds are present at the Zoo, including the Sandhill Crane, Eastern Screech Owl, Barn Owl, Wild Turkey, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, and the Alabama state bird, the Yellow-shafted Flicker.
The Zoo still retains a few of the old, large trees surviving from last century, but even these are replacements of the original forests of the site. The primeval forests would have included the moist South-Central Interior Small Stream and Riparian Floodplain Forest along the creek and the Allegheny-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland on the sandstone hills. There’s a good chance that Southeastern Interior Longleaf Pine Woodland (Montane Longleaf Pine Woodland) was on the hills if wildfires were frequent at this location.