Albany, Georgia, Lets Visitors Mingle with the Meerkats at Chehaw Wild Animal Park

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Located about an hour off I-10 and only 30 minutes from I-75, an ideal resting place or stopping point when en route to/from Savannah and Charleston, or even Florida, Albany’s nearly 800-acre Chehaw Wild Animal Park includes a 100-acre AZA-accredited zoo originally designed by Albany native and naturalist Jim Fowler of TV’s “Wild Kingdom.”

The park features natural habitat exhibits with native and exotic animals, including 219 specimens representing 84 species of wild animals. Don’t miss Bogart the Camel, the red wolves, cheetahs, Burmese python and black rhino exhibits. Mingle with the meerkats before heading to a spring-fed black gum swamp home to more than two dozen alligators ranging in size from six to 13 feet, as well as mussels, insects, fish, turtles and small mammals which work together to create a unique ecosystem.

Young children can make tracks to one of the state’s largest play parks, visit the petting zoo or ride the miniature train. Board the Wiregrass Express for a 20 minute ride or embark on the African Veldt Safari Adventure where zebras, wildebeest and Impala antelope transport guests to another continent.

Camping, hiking, disc golf and BMX bike racing are available. Several miles of equestrian trails wind throughout the park. A newly added 7.1-mile single fast bike trail runs along the wooded terrain near the river. In the summer Chehaw offers options for campers age 8-14 to experience outdoor activities like archery, nature hikes, survival skills, coupled with adventures like spending the night in a real tee pee and going behind the scenes at the zoo.

For those in search of a truly unique way to celebrate, Chehaw offers zoo birthday parties including admission, two hours in a private area, a 30 minute animal program, train passes and more.

Stay the night at one of the park’s 41 camping sites with hookups or consider one of the 18 tent camping sites complete with water and electricity. Cabins are also available.

If you go

During your visit, satisfy hunger cravings at The Catch, a trendy nouveau southern cuisine seafood dining destination; local treasure Austin’s BBQ and Oyster Bar; Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking; upscale Henry Campbell’s The Steakhouse; farm-to-fork, Our Daily Bread; and, pub-style Harvest Moon, with evening musical entertainment served on the side. If you don’t stay on the grounds at Chehaw, Albany offers more than two dozen hotels – many include complimentary breakfast.