History

1991

Nashville Zoo opens to the public in Cheatham County

1996

Nashville Zoo takes over Grassmere property

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 South Nashville site as a nature center. Led by then-Mayor Phil Bredesen, the city offered Nashville Zoo the opportunity to relocate the Zoo from Joelton and develop a “new” zoo for Nashville on the Grassmere property.

1997

Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere opens to the public under Nashville Zoo management

Jungle Gym opens

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.

1998

Zoo opens the Unseen New World

Historic Home is renovated and opens for tours

Nashville Zoo closes in Cheatham County focusing all development at the Grassmere property

Zoo celebrates the First Ghouls at Grassmere event

1999

First Eggstravaganzoo

Zoo continues in situ research on Komodo Dragons

The Zoo's Reptile Curator travels to Indonesia alongside a group of other researchers to study the unique ability of the Komodo Dragon to carry lethal bacteria in its blood stream and saliva without becoming infected.

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

A barn is built and opens next to the Historic Home

The new barn became the centerpiece of the Historic Farm with yards for sheep, cows and other farm animals.

2000

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

Clouded Leopard Consortium Founding

Since 2000, Nashville Zoo has partnered with zoos around the world to develop collaborative breeding programs and field monitoring projects for clouded leopards in Thailand. The resulting Clouded Leopard Consortium is based at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo with assistance from Thailand Zoological Parks Organization (ZPO), Nashville Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program. The Consortium focuses on building a sustainable population in human care of the elusive and threatened cats, and studying wild populations in Southeast Asia.

In the early 2000s, the Consortium focused its research efforts on figuring out how to successfully pair clouded leopards and how to improve cub survival in captivity. The Consortium learned that for successful pairing, male cubs need to be introduced to their future mates by the time the males are six months old. They also learned that hand-rearing cubs from birth is the best way to ensure that clouded leopards are comfortable around humans, which increases their breeding success later in life.

Staff Begins Giant Galliwasp Research

Nashville Zoo staff begin developing a conservation plan for Haitian Giant Galliwasps - large burrowing skink-like lizards that live in an extremely limited range in Haiti. Staff members traveled to Haiti to collect 9 males and 9 females to start a captive "reserve population."

2001

"Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere" officially becomes "Nashville Zoo at Grassmere"

The Hyacinth Macaw exhibit opens in Entry Village

The Gibbon Islands exhibit opens featuring siamangs and white-cheeked gibbons

2002

Meerkat exhibit opens

2003

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

The Zoo adds a new animal diet commissary building.

The Nashville Zoo’s brand new commissary was designed to meet the daily needs of animals but also meet any future needs the Zoo may have in years down the road. Our new animal diet commissary houses all the coolers needed for produce items and freezer space for frozen meat products, as well as a grain room, three food preparation areas, dishwasher room, thawing room and a live food room.

the inagural class of "Claws, Paws and Jaws" Donor Society members show their support by making a generous annual gift to the Zoo's Operating Fund.

2004

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

2005

The 3.2 acre African Elephant Savannah opens

Lorikeet Landing, the Zoo’s second interactive exhibit opens

Wild Animal Carousel opens

2006

Giraffe Savannah exhibit, red river hog exhibit, and Alligator Cove exhibit open

2007

Thanks to a donation of nearly 5 acres from CSX the Nashville Zoo significantly increased the amount of guest parking.

2010

Flamingo Lagoon exhibit opens

Historic home celebrates 200 years.

To celebrate, the Zoo hosted a summer picnic with descendants of the Croft sisters in attendance.

2011

Wilderness Express Train opens

The trackless miniature train takes guests along a circular pathway near the African Plains exhibit.

2012

Two cougars get a new future at the Nashville zoo.

The Zoo welcomed two new cougar to its animal collection. The 4-month old cubs were part of a trio rescued in Washington State after their mother was illegally killed.

2013

Kangaroo Kickabout opens

2014

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

2015

The Shell Station opens

2016

Soaring Eagle zip line opens

Entry Village re-opens with new Ticketing, Membership and Gift Shop Buildings

2017

Spider Monkey: Treetop Passage opens in April

White Rhinoceros make exhibit debut in July