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As Big Beach Marathon prepares to celebrate our sixth year, we are so excited to once again bring so many runners to the beautiful trails of the Gulf State Park and the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama. To show our appreciation for the Southern hospitality of this “Small Town, Big Beach” we strive each year to give back to the local community. We are proud and happy to once again have the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo as our Big Beach Marathon Charity Partner.

The Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo first opened in June 1989 in Gulf Shores, Alabama as Zoo Land Animal Park. It is now operated by the Zoo Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and relies on admissions, memberships, and contributions for its funding. It was the basis of the Animal Planet show “The Little Zoo That Could” that chronicled the relocation, rescue and recovery efforts before, during and after the devastation of Hurricane Ivan’s direct hit in September of 2004. That effort was quite a challenge for the staff and the animals so it was always the dream to move the zoo inland to protect the animals from future hurricanes.

That dream came true in March of 2020 when the zoo moved to its current new location. This “new zoo” is located on 25 inland acres providing a more modern spacious and safe haven for more than 500 animals including lions, tigers, leopards, wolves, bears, monkeys and more! You will definitely want to meet the Zoo SuperStars Chuckie the Gator, Budha the Black Bear and the new Giraffes Ben and Akayla. Making it the perfect family destination, the venue also offers theme-park entertainment such as a Carousel, Paddle Boats and a Zip Line over the zoo grounds. Fun-filled animal encounters and interactive animals shows allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the animals.

From new Zoo Director Joel Williams: “We are very happy to be continuing our partnership with the Big Beach Marathon and the new Big Beach Safari 7K Run for the Giraffes.” We are proud that our 2020 Big Beach Marathon events generated a charitable donation of over $6000 to the new zoo.

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