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4 Reasons You’ll Love Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo

Did you know you can see exotic animals like tigers, zebras, monkeys, and grizzly bears in the North Georgia mountains? Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo in Dahlonega, Georgia is a sprawling sanctuary for rescued animals that you won’t want to miss!

While on a road trip in the North Georgia Mountains, Kevin and I stopped at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo to see the bears (y’all know I can’t pass up a bear!).

While bears were the main event for me, we were pleasantly surprised to find all the other amazing animals and opportunities this Dahlonega zoo has! Keep reading for all the reasons you’ll love visiting the Chestatee Zoo.

Brown Bear at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

Why You Should Visit Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo

1. They rescue animals and give them a forever home

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo is a fully licensed rescue and wildlife preserve for exotic and native animals. This North Georgia zoo has over 100 animals roaming its 20 acres of rolling hills and farmland.

The preserve rescues animals that the state would otherwise have to put down. They’re a nonprofit organization that takes in hurt, neglected, and aging animals.

These animals can find their forever home here where they’re cared for by a loving volunteer staff.

2. You can see exotic animals you won’t find anywhere else

Brown Bear at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

Who knew a zoo in North Georgia could have so many interesting and exotic animals?

Of their over 100 animals, you can find rare and endangered species like the white Siberian tiger, chimpanzees, golden Bengal tiger, African lions, servals, leopards, zebras, macaws, emus, sloths, camels, tortoises, black bears, and grizzly bears.

They’re also well known for their zedonk, a half-zebra half-donkey. A baby zedonk, Pippi Z Donk, gained international attention when she was born to the zoo in 2010. She was born to father Zeke the zebra and mother Sara the donkey. In 2011, she got a sister named Pippa.

3. You get to feed some of the gentler animals

Zebra at Chestatee Wildlife Preserve

The preserve offers feed bags for just $5 each so you can feed some of the gentler animals (that means no feeding the bears).

You’re allowed to feed the animals that come up to the fence. Feed them at your own risk, though, because some do occasionally bite. If you have small children, you should help them feed the animals.

You can feed the zebras, the zedonks, free range chickens, rabbits, and more.

4. You can have a sloth encounter

If you’ve ever wanted to spend some personal time with a sloth, now is your chance!

The zoo offers a Sloth Encounter with their two-toed sloths, Flash and Sissi. You can touch the sloths (but not hold them, they don’t like to be held), let the sloths touch you, give them toys, feed them snacks, and take pictures with them.

The Sloth Encounter is offered once a day and costs $100 per person (admission not included). The encounter lasts 20 minutes.

Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo Info

Location: 469 Old Dahlonega Hwy, Dahlonega, GA 30533

Hours: daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last entry is at 2:30 p.m. They may close due to inclement weather. The best time to visit is in the mornings. It takes about 1.5 hours to enjoy the zoo completely.

Price: $15 for ages 12+, $10 for ages 11 and younger, free for 1 year and younger. Feed bags cost $5 each. There’s no official ticket window, so keep an eye out for a volunteer to come greet you as you pull into the parking lot. They take credit cards, but cash is preferred.

The zoo does not have indoor restrooms, but they do have 3 Porta Potties and a hand washing station.

Pets are not allowed for their own safety. Service animals are allowed with proper ID and restraints.

You can bring a packed lunch and dine at their picnic tables. Just make sure to pack out all of your trash. They sell Coke products on site, but no food.

Their trails are made of bark chips. After a hard rain, it may take several days to get re-barked. For this reason, I would not recommend it as wheelchair accessible.

Our Visit to Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo

On our way back from Unicoi State Park, Kevin and I stopped at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo in Dahlonega, Georgia to see their grizzly and black bears.

We parked right in front of the bear den and I was ready for an afternoon of enjoying bears!

Grizzly Bear at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, Dahlonega, Georgia

There’s no proper ticket window, just volunteers and workers who will roll up in a golf cart and give you a wrist band. I pulled myself away from the grizzly bear just long enough to give the worker our admission, then I went back to making friends with the bears.

Simone, the grizzly bear, spent her time investigating the outer portion of her habitat, which included some toys and a pool of water to splash in. Little Bear (also called LB), the black bear, stayed back in the covered portion for the day. They also have another black bear called Toby (short for Toe Biter lol) who I didn’t get to see.

Kevin finally pulled me away to go see the rest of the animals. The zoo is sprawling so you can take your time walking and looking.

Zebras at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, Dahlonega, Georgia

All the cats were taking their cat naps in the heat of the day. Zebras and emus roamed together on the hills. The zoo even has some zedonks, these little half-zebra half-donkeys that look like they’re wearing zebra-stripe socks. They’re so cute!

Zebra at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, Dahlonega, Georgia

Near the monkey house, I went through a path in the bamboo forest that clearly hadn’t been used in a while because I came out through a giant spider web. Kevin, my hero, had to save me by whacking the spider off of me. I still have a bruise from it.

To distract me from my horrifying arachnid encounter, we went back to the bears, who had decided it was time for a dip in the pool.

In all, it was a great trip to the zoo!

Where to Stay in Dahlonega

Find the perfect place to rest your head on your visit to Dahlonega, from the top rated accommodations to unique stays you can’t get anywhere else.

More Things To Do in North Georgia

Make the most of your visit to the North Georgia mountains! Check out these top things to do in the area.

Ready to visit Dahlonega, Georgia? Plan your trip with these tips.



Visiting the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo

Have you visited the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve and Zoo? Let me know in the comments!

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