Zoo

The Zoo at Chehaw is home to 238 specimens representing over 125 different species. Enjoy natural, outdoor exhibits including Cheetahs, Black Rhinoceros’, Meerkats, Black Bears, Alligators, and many more, while you stroll through our scenic boardwalks and cypress swamp. Participate in animal feedings and keeper talks every weekend. Chehaw’s African Veldt Ride is free with admission, and will take you through our largest exhibit where seven different species roam in natural herds. The Zoo at Chehaw is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). To be accredited, zoos must undergo a thorough investigation to ensure that they have met, and will to continue to meet, ever-rising standards. These standards encompass animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years.

Aepyceros melampus

The impala is a type of antelope endemic to eastern and southern Africa. It is the only animal of its genius and consists of two subspecies - the common impala and black-faced impala. The black-faced impala is considered a vulnerable species, with less than 1,000 animals left in the wild as of 2008. This is due to human encroachment, which disrupts their migration paths and makes it more difficult for them to find food in the dry seasons, to mate, and to safely give birth.

During the wet seasons, when sources of food are plentiful, the impalas may gather in larger herds of up to a few hundred animals. These large herds provide greater protection from predators, consisting of lions, cheetahs, hunting dogs, hyenas, and leopards. When threatened, the impala will let out a loud bark that warns the herd to flee. Impalas are fast, but also capable of jumping as high as three meters (9.8ft) and able to cover distances up to 10 meters (33 ft) in length. This makes them difficult prey, contributed to by their sporadic movements designed to confuse their predators. Those unable to keep up with the herd, usually the young and sickly, are at a much greater risk of being caught.

Impalas prefer to stay near water, and can be found in light woodlands and savannas, traveling in one of three social groups - female herds, bachelor herds, and territorial males. Once the breeding season starts, territorial males leave the bachelor herds to establish harems that they protect from other males. The females gestate for up to seven months, then give birth away from the herd to a single fawn. Once the fawn is able to follow the mother (up to a week) they will rejoin the female herd. After the fawns reach six months of age, the males will be forced out of the herd and this is when they are at their most vulnerable while they find a bachelor herd to join. The males are sexually mature at one year, but typically are unsuccessful until four years when they are more capable of fighting. Male impala have long, lyre-shaped horns that they use to challenge one another in strength. Their unique shape allows them to interlock their horns and throw their adversary off balance. They rely on this during mating season to keep their harem. The females are distinctly different from the males in that they are smaller and do not bare horns.