Nashville Zoo hits 25-year milestone!
Since opening at the Grassmere property in 1997, Nashville Zoo has celebrated tremendous growth over the past 25 years. The Zoo is rated one of the top attractions in the state and has become a staple for Tennesseans and tourists. Viewed as an international force in the world of conservation, Nashville Zoo participates in research efforts around the world and right in our backyard to save threatened species.
The Grassmere property was generously donated to the city by the Croft family on the condition that it had to be used as a ‘nature study area’. Nashville Zoo and city leaders struck a 40-year deal in which the land would be city-owned but operated by the Zoo’s private non-profit organization. Fast forward 25 years, Nashville Zoo is now home to over 3,000 animals representing more than 350 species, employing over 200 individuals and welcoming over one million guests each year. Learn more about our history.
Over the past two decades, conservation has been and continues to be a core piece of Nashville Zoo’s mission. Some of our Zoo’s notable conservation efforts through the years include the successful births of more than 35 clouded leopards, becoming the international leader in research and care plans for giant anteaters and paving the way for innovative hellbender breeding practices. Find out more about Nashville Zoo conservation.
Nashville Zoo is no stranger to success in its 25 years of operation. We gained national attention in 2019 and 2020 when the Zoo received Top Honors in Exhibit Design Award by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear and Tiger Crossroads. Winning top honors in exhibit design two years in a row has taken place only two other times in AZA history. The women’s Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear, home to the critically endangered cotton-top tamarins, and Entry Village’s men’s restroom, home to a Boelen’s python, were named America’s Best Restrooms in the country by Cintas in 2019.
The Zoo's recently renovated and guest favorite Jungle Gym playground is the largest community-built playground in the United States and was one of the first attractions to open at the Zoo back in 1997.
Our most recent project, likely to open in the spring of 2023, is the Zoo’s brand-new Komodo dragon habitat that is being built to house two adult males, three adult females and younger dragons. Learn more about the habitat.
With just 90 of 188 acres developed, we have big plans for the future. The Zoo’s next expansion will use 40-acres of the undeveloped land and transport guests into an immersive African Safari that will showcase hippos, lions cheetahs and more. This project will take an estimated 8 years to complete. Click here to read more details for future plans.
Thank you to all of our Nashville Zoo guests, members, volunteers and staff for an incredible 25 years at Grassmere!
Whether you’re available for a day or are looking for a long-term volunteer opportunity – you can make a valuable contribution to the Zoo’s volunteer team!
Nashville Zoo relies on your support to continue providing extraordinary animal care and education programs for the community, as well as our critical conservation initiatives.