Nashville Zoo is tons of fun and a great place to see fascinating animals…but there is also a lot of serious conservation work happening here. Our experienced staff is actively involved in research, habitat protection, breeding programs and education initiatives around the globe as well as in our own backyard.

Highlighted Conservation Projects

Clouded Leopard

At Nashville Zoo more than 28 cubs have been born in 17 litters since 2009. All of our clouded leopard cubs are raised by hand. This technique prevents parental predation and allows this normally nervous species to become acclimated to the sights and sounds of human interaction typical in an exhibit environment.

Hand-raising also allows the Zoo to pair cubs at an early age. Adult male clouded leopards are known to be aggressive to potential mates to the point of severe injury and even death. Our research with breeding clouded leopards has revealed that pairing at an early age significantly reduces aggression and allows for more successful breeding pairs.

Giant Anteater

Thirteen giant anteaters have been born at Nashville Zoo since 2001. This reproductive success has been enhanced by research projects done at the zoo which focus on the biology of anteaters and their reproductive system. Anteaters are highly specialized feeders and their diet can be challenging to replicate in zoos. Nutritional research is essential in developing diets that meet their nutritional needs and stimulate natural feeding behaviors.

Nashville Zoo is recognized as a leader in caring for captive giant anteaters as well as tamanduas (lesser anteater). The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary staff are currently working on an anteater care manual in conjunction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Program that will ultimately provide husbandry guidelines as well as veterinary issues associated with both the giant anteater and the tamandua.


Hellbenders are some of the largest salamanders in the world and have remained largely unchanged for 60 million years. However, hellbenders are now in decline and may be threatened with extinction unless conservation programs are developed.

Nashville Zoo is proud to be the first organization in the world to breed Eastern hellbenders and the first to breed hellbenders using biotechnology. The Zoo’s captive breeding program is now an international collaboration working to save this giant amphibian.

Puerto Rican Crested Toad

Thought to be extinct, the Puerto Rican Crested Toad was rediscovered in the 1960’s. Since that time, only a single population exists in the Guanica State Forest. Its biggest threats are habitat loss due to growing human populations and the introduction of new predators and invasive species.

In collaboration with other AZA accredited zoos and the US and Puerto Rican wildlife agencies, Nashville Zoo is successfully breeding thousands of Puerto Rican Crested Toads and releasing them into protected areas of their native land.

Financial Contributions to Conservation

When the Zoo can’t be actively involved, we contribute proceeds gained from your support to a wide array of incredible efforts organized by other environmental protection programs. Major contributions since 2012 include:

Species Survival Plan

Nashville Zoo participates in a number of Species Survival Plan programs with other zoos worldwide. Most SSP species are endangered or threatened in the wild. Each SSP carefully manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

African Elephant
Baird's Tapir
Clouded Leopard
Eastern Bongo
Freshwater Stingray
Galapagos Tortoise
Giant Anteater
Green Woodhoopoe
Haitian Giant Galliwasp
Indigo Snake
Lance-Headed Rattlesnake
Lined Sea Horse
Masai Giraffe
Komodo Dragon
Panamanian Gold Frog
Prehensile Tailed Porcupine
Puerto Rican Crested Toad
Red-Crowned Crane
Red Panda
Red River Hog
Red-Ruffed Lemur
Rhinoceros Hornbill
Ring-Tailed Lemur
South African Springbok
Southern Three-Banded Armadillo
Spectacled Owl
White-Cheeked Gibbon
Yellow Blotched Map Turtle