About Us

Chehaw is driven by its mission of inspiring people to connect with nature and encouraging conservation action through positive recreational and educational experiences. The Park, founded close to eight decades ago, has expanded to an 800 acre campus and includes a Zoo that houses hundreds of animals in naturalistic exhibits and annually hosts over 100,000 visitors. From the Zoo to the endless recreational opportunities, Chehaw has an activity for every visitor. Come see what nature’s playground has to offer you!

Our Beginning

Chehaw Park's Beginning

First developed as Chehaw State Park in 1937, the property consisted of 586 acres donated to the state of Georgia by private landowners in Dougherty and Lee Counties. It is enclosed on two sides by a large, clear water bayou formed by the conjoining of the Kinchafoonee and Muckalee Creeks. The property has expanded to nearly 800 acres and consists of moss-covered cypress swamps, hardwood forests, and a well-maintained wiregrass habitat.

The park was named after the Chiha, or Chehaw, a tribe of Creek Indians who lived throughout the property and befriended white settlers. Artifacts such as arrowheads, spearheads, tomahawks, hoes, drill, scrapers, clay pipes and stone celts were commonly found during original park development. Variations in artifact design show the land was used by distinctly different tribes over several hundreds of years.

A New Home

Chehaws New Home

In 1974, the city of Albany leased 100 unused acres of Chehaw from the state of Georgia with the intent to develop a wild animal park where exotic and indigenous animals would be displayed in their natural habitats. With the inception of the wild animal habitat, the State donated the entire Chehaw acreage to the city to further development. The City of Albany with Chehaw commissioned Jim Fowler, a native of Albany and host of the popular television show Wild Kingdom, to design and supervise the construction of the wildlife area.

The original animals were moved from the Tift Park Zoo in Albany to their new home at Chehaw between 1975 and 1977. Chehaw Wild Animal Park was officially dedicated and opened to the public in October of 1977. Accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) was achieved in 1997. The Wild Animal Park became The Zoo at Chehaw in 2016.

Expansion & Infrastructure

Chehaw Park's Expansion & Infrastructure

Between 1997 and 2002, the then Parks at Chehaw began to examine other park venues that would be a valuable asset to the community. After evaluation, construction of the two-million dollar Creekside Education Center, the Children’s Play Park and a nationally sanctioned BMX bike track began. Additional infrastructure construction included: animal quarantine, veterinary hospital, Savanna Café, bathrooms, reptile house, and ticket booth.

Chehaw has a rich history, a unique setting, a skilled and diverse staff, strong city support, an outstanding support organization and a new vision for the future. This vision will encompass the principles on which Chehaw was founded… conservation, education and preservation.

Corporate Partners

Being a non-profit organization, Chehaw depends on partnerships with other local organizations and businesses. These partnerships allow Chehaw to serve this area with an excellent park system and turn big visions into a local reality.

The following businesses have partnered with Chehaw:


2016 Sponsors

iPad Donation

  • AT&T Pioneers

Play Park Fundraiser

  • The Brittany Kerfoot Memorial Playground Project

Festival of Lights

  • Bishop Clean Care 
  • Pritchett Pippin Dance Studio
  • Hinman Pools
  • NEOS Technologies
  • WALB
  • Albany Herald
  • Cumulus Radio

Native American Cultural Festival Corporate Partners

  • Colony Bank
  • Potter Motor Company
  • Walden & Kirkland
  • Rental Depot
  • Homerun Foods

Motel Sponsors

  • Merry Acres
  • Wingate Inn
  • Best Western Inn
  • Country Inn and Suites
  • Red Roof Inn
  • America’s Best Value Inn

Picnic Tables made from Recycled Material

  • Darsey Family Foundation