Nashville Zoo Timeline


  • Nashville Zoo opens to the public in Cheatham County


  • Nashville Zoo agrees to take over management of the Grassmere property after the closing of the Grassmere Wildlife Park. The city of Nashville was bound by the will of the Croft sisters to maintain the site, located in South Nashville, as a nature center. Led by then-Mayor Phil Bredesen, the city offers Nashville Zoo the opportunity to relocate the Zoo from Joelton and develop a “new” zoo for Nashville on the Grassmere property.


  • Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere opens to the public under Nashville Zoo management
  • The 66,000 sq. ft. Jungle Gym opens to the public thanks to thousands of volunteers who helped build the largest community built playground in the United States


  • The Zoo opens the Unseen New World and Historic Home and Farm areas
  • Nashville Zoo closes in Cheatham County focusing all development at the Grassmere property


  • Entry Village, featuring new entrance, gift shop and restaurant, opens to the public


  • Critter Encounters, the Zoo’s first interactive exhibit, opens


  • Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere officially becomes Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
  • Gibbon Islands and Hyacinth Macaw exhibits open in Entry Village


  • Meerkat exhibit opens
  • Bamboo Trail opens, featuring clouded leopards, red pandas, rhinoceros hornbills and lemurs


  • The Zoo receives accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)


  • The 3.2 acre African Elephant Savannah opens. Wins exhibit of the year
  • Lorikeet Landing, the Zoo’s second interactive exhibit, and the Wild Animal Carousel open


  • Giraffe Savannah exhibit and Alligator Cove exhibit open


  • Flamingo Lagoon exhibit opens


  • The Wilderness Express Train is introduced to the public during the spring break season. The trackless miniature train takes guests along a circular pathway near the African Plains exhibit. 


  • Kangaroo Kickabout opens


  • Cassowary relocates to new exhibit across from Kangaroo Kickabout
  • Nashville Zoo receives $10 million gift from the city of Nashville and kicks off major capital campaign