The Little Zoo That Could seen on Animal Plant is the based on the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo located in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Zoo Foundation Inc operates the non-profit organization which is reliant on contributions, memberships and admissions to gain funding. The facility is a few blocks away from the beach and contains over two hundred and ninety animals.
Animals at the facility which also operates a petting zoo include bears, monkeys and a reptile house. Gulf Shores' Joey Ward began the zoo which opened as the Zooland Animal Park during June of 1989 as a private project. The foundation that runs the zoo was created by the Ward Family during 1991. They also donated the zoo's seventeen acres and during 1994 thirteen undeveloped acres were donated by the Erie Meyer Foundation and the Ward Family.
Hurricane Danny hit the area during July of 1997 followed by Hurricane George during 1998 which caused damage from flooding. The zoo evacuated the animals moving them fifteen miles farther inland to higher ground making it the first zoo to ever have a complete evacuation during a hurricane. The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo almost closed during 1999 because of the cost of evacuating the animals and required repairs. Fund raising made it possible for the facility to remain open.
Five hundred thousand dollars worth of damage was done in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan which caused another evacuation. The zoo was closed for fourteen months after the hurricane. A number of animals that could not be caught for the evacuation were lost. In 2005 another hurricane caused the facility to close.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo was approached by Animal Planet about a series after receiving a great deal of media attention after Hurricane Ivan. In 2005 the series began filing with the first thirteen episodes being shown during February of 2006. In February of 2007 there was an hour long follow up aired.
The zoo has received donations of building supplies, services and money from both local businesses and the community to keep it running in the past. There are now endowments from corporations, grants and sponsorships to assist the zoo that was not available prior to 1998. Clyde Weir owner of Souvenir City stores donated twenty acres of land to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo during 2006.
The Zoo opens at nine in the morning and closes at four in the afternoon each day with the exception of certain holidays when the facility is closed. The cost of admission to the facility is $10 for those aged twelve to fifty-four, $8 for those fifty-five and over, children aged three to twelve pay $7 for admission. Taxes are not included in the pricing. There is no charge for children aged two and under to get into the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.
The gift shop at the zoo offers a variety of items and the proceeds from the sales go to run the facilities. Those wishing to obtain additional information about the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and its facilities should contact the zoo directly.