Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia

photo-187I’ve been meaning to check out Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary for quite some time, but summer was sweltering, I live north of Atlanta and the sanctuary is south, excuses, excuses, etc. Last week my three-year-old son was on fall break from pre-school so we took advantage of the cooler weather.

Noah’s Ark is not a zoo; it is a home for animals in need of a place to go. It’s a sanctuary for special needs animals, former medical research subjects, retired circus performers and illegal pets. In fact, it is home to the BLT trio — a bear, lion and tiger that were raised together and confiscated as cubs from an Atlanta drug dealer in a raid. They have been together for 14 years. All three were out on the day we went, but Baloo the Bear was the only one feeling the need to say hello to visitors at the moment by sitting near the fence and observing us. Leo the Lion was lazing in the grass with his back to us and Shere Khan the Tiger was sprawled on the porch of the hut. They adamantly refused to huddle together and duck face for my camera.

Shere Kahn is sleeping in the background, while Baloo keeps an eye on the silly humans.
Shere Khan is sleeping in the background, while Baloo keeps an eye on the silly humans.

We paused for a while to watch Gary, the rhesus macaque who was once the subject of biomedical research, and seemed intent on ignoring some ladies who called his name repeatedly, hoping he’d turn and look at them. Then again, he probably learned in the lab that nothing good comes of answering when you’re called.photo-189

There was another bear, named Gideon, that my son had a great time watching. He was right up by the fence
and the distance between the two fences was not as wide so he was much closer than the others. One of my favorite things about Noah’s Ark was how close you can get to many of the animals, even if you can’t touch them. Most are much closer than the zoo, which is particularly nice for my son who has autism and isn’t really interested in looking off into the distance. He wants something moving or making noise right in front of him.

There is one large pen with animals you can actually reach into and touch. It contains a cow, miniature horse, goat and an emu.

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Noah’s Ark also has a visitor center with clean bathrooms, a playground and picnic tables. The most amazing thing is that they don’t charge — it is donation only. The donations are desperately needed to provide the food and healthcare the animals need, so please be sure to drop something in the box either at the visitor center or at the start of the path to the enclosures.

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Noah’s Ark has an excellent and frequently-updated Facebook page with information, videos and pictures of the animals. It is also a good place to check and make sure they haven’t had to close due to inclement weather. Hours are currently from 12-3 Tuesday-Saturday. For more information, please check out the website here.

The 2015 Fall Festival is approaching on Oct. 17 and is a fundraiser for the organization.


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