Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

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Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Sign at zoo entrance
Date opened 1990 (as Grassmere Wildlife Park)[1]
Location Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Coordinates 36°05′19″N 86°44′32″W / 36.0885°N 86.7422°W / 36.0885; -86.7422Coordinates: 36°05′19″N 86°44′32″W / 36.0885°N 86.7422°W / 36.0885; -86.7422
Land area 200 acres (81 ha)[1]
No. of animals 6,230
No. of species 339
Annual visitors 964,760[2]
Memberships AZA[3]

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a zoological garden and historic plantation farmhouse located 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of Downtown Nashville. As of 2014, the zoo was middle Tennessee's top paid attraction and contained 6,230 individual animals, encompassing 339 species.[4] Its site is about 82 acres (33 ha) with an additional 106 acres (43 ha) available for expansion.[4] It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[5]

Soaring Eagle zip line.


The Historic Grassmere Home

Nashville Zoo’s history at Grassmere began in the late 1980s. Sisters Margaret and Elise Croft were the last two owners of the Croft House and family farm at Grassmere, located six miles south from downtown Nashville. They donated the 300-acre farm to the Children’s Museum of Nashville, which is now the Adventure Science Center. After Elise Croft’s death in 1985, the museum began development of a wildlife park, which opened there in 1990. Meanwhile, the separate Nashville Zoo opened in Joelton in 1991. By 1995, the museum decided to close the Grassmere Wildlife Park. Ownership of the land went to the city, which was still bound by the Croft sisters’ will to maintain the area as a nature center. In 1996, then-Mayor Phil Bredesen offered the Nashville Zoo the chance to relocate from Joelton to the Grassmere property. On May 1, 1997, the Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere opened to the public. In October 1998, the zoo closed its Cheatham County location to focus all of its efforts on the current Grassmere property. In 2001, the Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere officially became the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. The resulting facility has been engineered to grow so as to take maximum advantage of its 200 acres (81 ha).[6][4]


The zoo is active in numerous research and conservation activities including participating in a number of the programs in the Species Survival Plan which is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Beginning in 1991, the zoo began breeding the endangered snow leopard, the clouded leopard, the red-ruffed lemur, and the black-and-white-ruffed lemur with ongoing plans to include many other species.[7]


  1. ^ a b "About the Zoo". Nashville Zoo. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Gang, Duane W. (July 6, 2014). "How long has the zoo been at Grassmere?" (Vol.110. No.185). The Tennessean (Nashville). p. 8-A. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Association of Zoos and Aquariums/current accreditation". AZA. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  6. ^ Carey, Bill (1 November 2001). "Nashville's Ark: The city is finally committed to a world-class animal park". City Press LLC. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Straight, Cathy (June 6, 1991). "Animals now kept with preservation in mind" (Vol. 87. No.157). The Tennesseean (Nashville, Tennessee). p. 3-D. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 

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