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A north Alabama zoo is one step closer to reality.

The North Alabama Zoological Society has confirmed two properties, totaling nearly 500 acres, have been set aside for zoo development in north Alabama.

Projected map of the North Alabama Zoological Park (courtesy North Alabama Zoological Society)

One property will feature the zoo as an anchor, with room for further development; the second will be a research and education center.

The zoo, yet to be officially named, is projected to be 279 acres, and will include an aquarium as well.

Society officials provided a concept image of the zoo to News 19 along with more details on the exhibits.

Alabama Natives – the exhibit will feature wildlife reaching from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf of Mexico; guests will be able to interact with domesticated animals and purchase dairy/ice cream from cows in the exhibit.

Cosmic Jungle – the exhibit will showcase animal heroes who went into space.

Future phases of the zoo will focus on national parks around the world, such as Yellowstone National Park, Asia, and both the forests and savannas of Africa.

The edges of the zoo are projected to be part of an adventure trek and could feature themed expeditions such as horseback riding in Yellowstone or safari tours in the savanna.

The front entrance area will be an entertainment district with shops, restaurants, and common areas for guests and non-guests.

The zoo will also feature a splash pad and antique carousel for children.

Zoo officials estimate Phase 1 (the area bordered by the blue box above) will take three years to build once full funding is secured.

Executive Director Ethan Woodruff said it’s time for a zoo in north Alabama.

“We have been working on the project for the last 2 years setting the groundwork for creating a much wanted experience in our area.  Other regions and communities our size have them, now is the right time for us to get one.”

Ethan Woodruff, North Alabama Zoological Society Executive Director

Options to support the society and zoo project, including some beyond individual donations, can be found on the society’s website.