Lions, tigers, and bears – oh my! All of them and more can be found at Natural Bridge Zoo. People of all ages enjoy getting closer to nature and what better way to do so than visiting one of the most beautiful places in Virginia and seeing some of the world’s most majestic animals up close. The zoo has been in operation since 1972 and is privately owned. Its mission is to propagate and raise threatened and endangered species.
The Zoo is currently open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6pm. The Zoo is open from March through November and hours vary at certain times of the year so be sure to check out the zoo website to find the most updated information. Admission to the zoo is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for children ages 3-12. Children 2 and under are free. Animal feed is also available for purchase.
One of the coolest and most unique things that can be found at the Natural Bridge Zoo are african elephant rides! For just $5, visitors to the zoo can take a stroll on an elephant. Rides are generally given from noon to 3pm but can vary depending on weather and zoo attendance. Some fun facts about the african elephant include a height up to 13 feet and weight up to 6 tons. They can live 60 to 70 years in captivity (45 to 50 years in the wild). The elephant at Natural Bridge is female and she is very attached to her keepers and enjoys giving rides to the public.
Another unique event going on at the zoo right now are baby tiger photos. A white tiger was born on April 3, 2012 and the zoo is using the time while this tiger and others are cubs to run a Photo Fundraising Session. The money raised will go to building and enriching a new habitat for the tigers. Tickets must be purchased in person prior to the photo start times (they run at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm on weekends and 11:30am and 2:30pm during the week). The price for the 8×10 photo is $60 and up to three people can be in the photo for that price. It might be a little steep but totally worth interacting with the adorable cubs.
Other attractions at the zoo include a petting zoo, various mammals, birds, and reptiles. It could easily take a whole day to see them all!