Meet the Animals: Petting Zoos, Animal Farms, and Animal Sanctuaries Near Atlanta

Pettit Creek Farms is home to exotic animals from around the globe.
Pettit Creek Farms is home to exotic animals from around the globe.

If the warm weather has your family yearning to get out and mingle with some friendly four-legged critters, there are plenty of petting zoos and animal farms in Atlanta. These animal sanctuaries and petting zoos beckon families to enjoy a day trip meeting barnyard creatures at animal farms, such as pigs, horses, goats, ponies, and rabbits, and even exotic animals such as giraffes, camels and in some cases, lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my!

Most of these petting zoos and animal sanctuaries advise visitors not to feed the animals unless it's animal feed that they provide, either included with admission or purchased for an additional fee. So grab plenty of hand sanitizer, wet wipes, plastic gloves (bison slobber is no joke), and some snacks (for the kids, not the animals) and head out to one of these favorite Atlanta petting zoos, animal farms, and animal sanctuaries.

Petting Zoos and Animal Farms in Atlanta

1. North Georgia Wildlife Park—Cleveland

This vast wildlife park is located just about an hour north of Atlanta in Cleveland and features a drive-thru safari experience, with the opportunity for "add-on" interactions with animals, including kangaroos, baby deer, porcupines, lemurs, sloths and more.   

2. Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo—Dahlonega

Located an hour north of Atlanta in Dahlonega, this wildlife preserve is home to more than 100 exotic and native animals. Many of the animals at the preserve are rescues who were orphaned, abused, or illegally purchased. The animal preserve offers families opportunities to hold a sloth and other animals. 


Goats On The Roof is a fun family stop!

3. Goats on a Roof—Tiger 

This fun roadside stop really gets our goat, featuring a goat-feeding station with ropes and pulleys (or feed them through a fence); a country store adorned with cutout goats on the roof (hence, the name); gem mining; and a playground. Children can earn the opportunity to become an "official" Goat Ranger.   

4. Pettit Creek Farms—Cartersville

Pettit Creek Farms is an animal farm, home to a variety of species including camels, goats, ostriches, zebras, and more. Visitors are encouraged to purchase feed as they enter, and drive through the dirt path featuring exotic animals. There are opportunities to linger along the way (mind the car behind you) and let the animals eat from your child's outstretched arm.  

RELATED: Visiting Fernbank Museum in Atlanta with Kids: A Chance to Discover Natural History

Georgia Peach World Farm offers visitors a chance to feed animals at its petting zoo. Photo by Jackie Jones

5. Georgia Peach World Farm - Townsend

Georgia Peach World Farm has a farm, roadside attractions, and most importantly for this article, a petting zoo! Located right off I-95 in Townsend, Georgia, this animal farm has goats, zebus, alpacas, pigs, sheep, peacocks, and more.

6. Zoo Atlanta—Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta features safe separation between spectators and animals, but there are some opportunties to get up close to some animals in the barnyard, where kids can interact with goats, sheep, pigs, and more. As animal interactions are always subject to change, check with zoo staff during your visit or on the website for additional details.  

7. Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary—Lilburn

Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary has put much care and dedication into the welfare of its animal inhabitants. The animal sanctuary is home to bison, peacocks, pigs, albino wallabies, Babydoll sheep, fallow deer, ring-tailed lemurs, alpacas, and more. Check the website for info on its interactive exhibits and "Walk on the Wildside" tours.

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animals at Noah's ark animal sanctuary
Visit Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary and help support their rescued animals. 

8. Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary—Locust Grove

This unique nonprofit animal sanctuary located just over an hour south of Atlanta, is definitely worth the drive. The sanctuary features an oasis for abused and neglected animals, including reptiles, primates, bears, birds, and exotic cats. There are opportunities to take a variety of tours at Noah's Ark.   

9. Southern Belle Farm—McDonough

This working farm offers an opportunity to shop for seasonal produce, take part in seasonal events and activities, as well as opportunities for visitors to interact with its animal farm, like barnyard chickens, donkeys, cows and calves, goats, horses, and more.

10. Wild Animal Safari—Pine Mountain

Georgia's better-known animal safari, Wild Animal Safari, offers options to use your own car on the safari or rent one of the already animal-weathered zebra vans. This vast drive-thru safari features a variety of animals that come knocking on your car window for food. Get close to camels, zebras, watusis, American bison, and more. Warn kiddos: These animals aren't shy about begging for food, slobbering on cars, hands, and pretty much any surface.

Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the animal farms and sanctuaries.

Candler Park Fall Fest - Canceled
Candler Park - 10:00 AM Pick
North Georgia State Fair
Jim R. Miller Park - various times Pick
Origami in the Garden
Atlanta Botanical Garden - 9:00 AM
Woodland Spirits at Fernbank
Fernbank Museum of Natural History - 10:00 AM
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