Spring weather has come just in time for Valentine’s Day, and love is in the air at Bear Hollow Zoo in Athens, Georgia. No matter who you are or how old you might be, from toddlers to the young at heart, everyone can appreciate a free trip to the zoo.
For local families, couples, power walkers and photographers, Bear Hollow serves as a perfect outing to enjoy watching bears climb, alligators sunbathe and turkeys gobble. As a zoo specifically dedicated to providing a home to non-releasable animals who due to medical reasons or previous circumstances had no chance of survival on their own, Bear Hollow is an Athens gem that holds a special place in the community’s heart.
This weekend’s warm temperatures brought in a variety of visitors who enjoyed spending time with loved ones and with their favorite zoo residents.
One of Bear Hollow’s most affectionate deer, Rocky, gives zookeeper Lauren Serafin, 25, a few kisses during his daily check-up on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Rocky was rescued after being kept as an illegal and mistreated pet, and is now known to zoo staff as the resident “Labrador Deer.” (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Sophia Bennett, 3, watches the alligator, Mazie, bask in the warm sunlight on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Bennett and her younger brother enjoy running around the park and naming the different animals at Bear Hollow. (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Mohamed Ajwah, middle, 20, enjoys the bobcat exhibit with Edward Sham, left, 20, Basher Hassan, left, 20, and Blaise Mccomb, right, 22, on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Ajwah and his roommates take study breaks to enjoy the zoo, especially Katie the bobcat, which Ajwah describes as his “spirit animal.” (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Jack Manget, 3, searches for the “eyeliator” from behind the glass wall on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Other than finding his favorite alligator, Manget loves to look at the snakes, spiders and turtles in the reptile house. (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Brady Marusarza, 18, and Kristina Burkingstock, 17, take a trip from Buford to the Bear Hollow Zoo on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. The high school couple started coming to Bear Hollow last year, and it remains one of their favorite date spots. (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Tom Shirah, 59, takes pictures of deer prancing through their enclosure on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. When visiting his family in Athens, Shirah always takes time to visit the Bear Hollow Zoo. (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Lindsey Nelson, 34, shows her daughter, Eliza Nelson, 1, birds in the Bear Hollow sanctuary on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. The zoo is one of Nelson’s favorite family outings for her kids to play outside and to be entertained by the animals. (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
Charissa Pipe, 25, a local preschool teacher, takes pictures of a vulture perched on a branch in its cage on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. Pipe has found Bear Hollow to be the perfect place to unwind, exercise and practice her photography skills. (Photo/Gabrielle Cowand).
This post was written by Gabrielle Cowand. Follow her on Twitter @gabriellecowand.