New Exhibits

White Rhinoceros now occupy the former Elephant habitat.

The former African Elephant Savannah is now home to four female captive-born rhinos from South Africa. The four captive-born white rhinos came from a reserve in South Africa and are named Norma, Modwani, Kacie and No.54. This marks the first time for any rhino species to be housed at Nashville Zoo.

Rhino Update:

The four rhinos are slowly adapting to their new home here in Nashville and all of the sights, smells, and sounds that come with it. Keepers will continue monitoring the rhinos until they become more comfortable. Because the young rhinos are still a little nervous, there is no guarantee that they will be out on any certain day or time, but your best chance to see them is before lunch.

To give you some insight into our rhino acclimation process: Keepers open the barn doors first thing each morning to give the rhinos the option to go outside. If our four rhinos do not show interest in going outside, then keepers often try again after lunch. It’s very important that this transition process is not rushed. The rhinos’ health and safety are top priorities during this transition, so keepers are letting the rhinos adjust at their comfort level.

Exhibit Details

The outdoor exhibit yard needed several alterations to insure a comfortable environment for the incoming rhino herd, including modifying the existing pool. Guests will now be able to get a view of the rhinos from under a shaded pavilion overlooking the wading pool. The former elephant barn also needed to be remodeled to accommodate the rhinos, including replacing the floors and additional work to the outdoor holding area attached to the barn.

Species Information

While the Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is the least endangered of the living rhino species with 21,077 remaining in the wild, they are listed as near threatened due to habitat loss and illegal poaching. In South Africa alone, poachers kill three or more rhinos per day to feed the demand for horn on the black market. Nashville Zoo brings local awareness of the critical status of all five rhino species during its annual conservation concert, Rockin’ for Rhinos, and also supports the International Rhino Foundation through financial contributions.

The Southern white rhino is the largest species of rhino. It has a wide mouth used for grazing and is the most social of all the rhino species living in family groups as opposed to being solitary. White rhinos can live up to 50 years or more, with males tipping the scale at nearly 6,000 pounds. Females are considerably smaller, but can still weigh in at an impressive 4,000 pounds. At close to six feet tall, white rhinos can run as fast as 35 miles per hour and are surprisingly quick and nimble for their size.

Rhinos lounging inside after their arrival in May.
Rhinos resting after their arrival in May.
Construction on the outside of the rhino barn.
A new viewing structure is being constructed by the exhibit's pool (near the Giraffe exhibit).


Spider Monkey Exhibit Now Open!

The new spider monkey exhibit, graciously funded by Dottie Frist, opened on Thursday, April 6. The addition of Mexican spider monkeys marks the first monkey species to be housed at Nashville Zoo in more than four years.

Exhibit details

To enter the new exhibit, Zoo guests cross an elevated wooden bridge ending in a treetop view of these lively, inquisitive Mexican spider monkeys swinging among the trees. Half siblings, Sandy and Poppy, came to Nashville from Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL. The Zoo plans to add two more females to the group in the near future. The covered viewing building features materials from around the world including Peruvian textiles and decorative masks hand-selected by Zoo President, Rick Schwartz. Bamboo imported from Vietnam and Colombia and environmentally sustainable materials like reclaimed pallet wood and synthetic thatch complement the exhibit’s Central American theme.

Species information

Mexican spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi vellerosus) are critically endangered in Central America’s rainforest due to habitat loss and destruction. Nashville Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for this species to increase the captive population.

Spider monkeys are adapted for an arboreal lifestyle swinging through the trees with a hand over hand motion called semi-brachiation. Their long prehensile tail can support their entire weight and is often used as a third arm for movement. Spider monkeys lack visible thumbs which allows for greater ease while moving through the branches.



Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear will open in 2018!

Once complete, “Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear” will feature multiple species, ensuring this as one of the most popular destinations within the park.

Visitors will get an unobstructed view of the bears’ hillside habitat from inside a Peruvian lodge. The lodge will contain interactive educational displays and feature a 16-ft. aquarium with fresh water stingrays and other aquatic species that inhabit the Peruvian Amazon Basin.

Upon exiting the lodge, guests will encounter the world’s smallest deer, the pudu, sharing its habitat with an unusual rodent called a viscacha. An additional habitat will feature a group of over twenty guinea pigs and will highlight the importance of these domesticated animals to Peruvian culture.


Three Sumatran tiger sisters will be moving to Nashville in 2018.

Originally built in 1989 as a black bear exhibit, the Zoo’s tiger exhibit was in great need of renovation. The new exhibit will be home to three female Sumatran tigers.

Improvements to the exhibit will enlarge the tigers’ habitat and night quarters, as well as add a new indoor viewing area for guests. The viewing building will feature reinforced glass panels for the closest possible view of these majestic cats, a training panel so guests can interact with keeper staff, and interactive displays to engage and educate visitors about tiger conservation.

In addition, the outdoor bridge viewing area will be renovated to visually mirror the Asian architectural components featured on the new viewing building.