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 800,000
Memberships AZA[2]

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,[3] its site is about 82 acres (33 ha) with an additional 106 acres (43 ha) available for expansion.[3] It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[4]

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).[5][3]

Grassmere Historic Home[edit]

On the grounds of the zoo facilities, the property still maintains the original historic plantation house, called Grassmere or the Historic Croft Home.

Visitors to the zoo can tour this 19th-century historic house museum, its gardens and the associated Grassmere Historic Farm.


Zoo Central[edit]

Jungle Gym[edit]

Nashville Zoo's Jungle Gym is a 66,000-square foot playground featuring a 35-foot tall tree house structure, super slides, cargo netting, swings, and a giant snake tunnel; in 1998, thousands of volunteers worked together to build this array of climbing structures for children. The Jungle Gym is the largest community-built playground in the United States.

Gibbon Islands[edit]

As you enter the Zoo, two islands covered with various trees and bushes are home to siamangs and white-cheeked gibbons. Throughout the day you may hear their distinctive calls greeting visitors as they enter the Zoo, all while climbing and swinging through the treetops.


The meerkat exhibit, opened in 2002, features a mob of extremely social meerkats. Visitors can view them through a plexiglass wall or through a cylindrical window within the exhibit to get a meerkat’s-eye view of the colony as they dig through an expansive network of underground tunnels.[6]


In 2006, a giraffe exhibit was opened when the zoo acquired three Masai giraffes, a male and two females, these are three of only 55 Masai giraffes in the United States as of 2006. Technically, the animals are on loan from three other zoos, but are permanently housed at the Nashville Zoo.[7] Another female giraffe was added in 2015,[8] the giraffes live on a savannah which is a 1.5 acre area that includes shade trees and tall grasses preferred by the animals. In bad weather, the giraffes have use of a 4,800 square foot facility for shelter.[9]

Other facilities[edit]

In 2015, The Nashville Zoo Opened a Zip line attraction called Soaring Eagle. All the Animals from movies and videos from Animal Planet included the African Elephants from Jumanji 1995 and Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle 2017, a Zebra from Racing Stripes 2005, the Bengal Tiger from The Jungle Book 2016, a Red Crowned Crane from Winged Migration, an Ostrich from Night at the Museum trilogy, a Saddle-Billed Stork, a Southern Double Wattled Cassowary, a Toco Toucan, and a Rhino Hornbill from Dinosaurs Decoded, the American Alligator from Smokey Bandit 2, the White Rhinos from Animal Face Off, a Red Kangaroo from Kangaroo Jack 2003, a Cheetah from African Cats, a Donkey from Adventure of Pinocchio 1996 film, a Barn Owl from Labyrnith 1996, the Snow Owl from Harry Potter Collection, a rodent Guinea Pig from Dr. Dolittle collection, The Springboks from Africa episode 4 Cape, Galapagos Giant Tortoise, a Komodo Dragon and a Eastern Diamond Rattlesnake, from Crocodile Hunter, a Grey Crowned Crane from Wizard of Oz 1939, Canada Geese from Fly Away Home 1996, and Bactrian Camel from Dinosaurs Alive 2007


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.[10]


  1. ^ a b "About the Zoo". Nashville Zoo. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  2. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Association of Zoos and Aquariums/current accreditation". AZA. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Slaughter, Sylvia (April 21, 2006). "Gangly giants move in" (Vol 102. No. 111). The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee). p. D-1. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  8. ^ Barnes, Todd (November 29, 2015). "Animals trading spaces as Zoo grows" (Vol. 111 No.333). The Tennesseean (Nashville). p. 15-A. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  9. ^ Wallace, Ann (April 26, 2006). "'Oak leaf' giraffes land at Nashville Zoo" (Vol. 196. No.116). The Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville, Tennessee). p. D-10. Retrieved August 26, 2017. 
  10. ^ 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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