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Construction Update: New Entrance

Thanks to the tremendous support we have received from the community, Nashville Zoo has reached a pinnacle moment in our story. Over the next several years, we have an opportunity to grow our organization and offer guests’ unique experiences and animal encounters that you can’t get anywhere else. Andean bears, spider monkeys and a world-class Africa exhibit are all on the horizon, but several infrastructural components must first be addressed to improve the visiting experience.

If you’ve visited during one of our high attendance days, chances are you have been stuck in traffic on Nolensville Pike, parked in a back lot or waited in a long line just to enter the Zoo. When our existing entrance opened in 1999, our annual attendance was less than half of what it is today. To address this tremendous growth, we have broken ground on a new entrance road and entry village that’s designed to handle high capacity crowds and get you into the Zoo faster. 

We hope the effects of this construction on your visit will be minimal, however there are a few things you should know:

  • During construction, guests will be using a temporary Zoo entry located to the left of the old entrance. The temporary entrance has all the features of the old buildings - same number of ticket windows, a dedicated membership building and stroller/wheelchair rental capabilities. Guests will be entering the Zoo by the amphitheater
  • Members can be checked in at any register, so long as you have a proper I.D. and member card. Can’t locate your membership card? Email membership@nashvillezoo.org to order a replacement and receive a temporary e-card that can be used immediately. 
  • Animal shows have been suspended and the hyacinth macaw exhibit will be closed to the public during construction.

When it’s complete, the new entry village will feature state-of-the-art membership and ticket facilities, restrooms, private room for nursing mothers, first aid station, security, new gift shop and more.

Barring unforeseen weather or construction delays, we hope to open the new entrance in Fall of 2015

Follow our progress! Construction updates and pictures will be posted periodically on our blog. You are also welcome to email us at pr@nashvillezoo.org if you have any questions. 

Disassembly of our old entrance: 

Temporary entrance: 

Posted by Kelsey White at 11:13 AM


11/4/2014 at 04:49 PM by B. Abbott

The new entrance to the zoo is very nice - but trying to exit was a bit tricky. My grandson, who is 4, knew the exit was not far from the jungle gym and when we went that way he was stumped as to where to go. But once we found the right path, it was easy to get out. I think the improvements will be wonderful and make for a much great zoo experience. I know we will keep coming back to see what new things are going on.

11/4/2014 at 06:08 PM by Dana Whitley

I'm just hoping there will be more animals to see. Then what animals you do have are too far away to even enjoy. We are from Houston Texas and their Zoo was much better. The animals were right there or behind glass. Nashville Zoo has half the animals they do. Just get more animals Please!! We bought the year membership online before we went. We live an hour away from the Zoo and for what? :( The kids were disappointed. They do enjoy the giant playground. We come to the Zoo to see ANIMALS. And we could go to the farm to pet the goats. :( We can go to the park and play on the playground, 5 minutes from the house. Just want my moneys worth. Thank you :)

11/4/2014 at 06:23 PM by Aaron

Just to provide an alternative viewpoint to Dana's comment, I'd like to say that I really appreciate the work that Nashville Zoo has done to create naturalistic animal exhibits. Animals probably don't want to be in the zoo. And if they are in a zoo, they don't want to be "right there or behind glass" - they'd like to have places to hide and get away from the crowds. I'd rather see a more relaxed and happy animal in a naturalistic habitat -- like the monkeys on their own island or the tigers and elephants with their huge enclosures - versus seeing a stressed, unhappy animal up close. So sure, we could use some more animals, and the zoo is growing all the time. Remember that Houston is a MUCH bigger city. I'm sure Nashville Zoo has room to improve, but I don't think we need to worry about copying any other zoo or any other city.

11/4/2014 at 06:59 PM by Erin

To give Dana a little more background, I'd like to point out that the Nashville Zoo is relatively new compared to some others in the area that do have more. For example the Memphis Zoo is over 100 years old and I believe Zoo Atlanta is as well, but our zoo has only been in its present location for only about 15 or so years. They've done a lot of catching up in a relatively short time! Also, historically the Nashville Zoo has not received funding from the city as some other big zoos do--it's not part of a city park and it relies on private funding. This is about to change as Nashville is finally starting to give this zoo the support it deserves, but only if they can raise private funds to match. I have noticed over the years that our zoo here stresses quality over quantity every time, and the more zoos I visit the more I appreciate our zoo's insistence that the animals have the best habitats possible. We don't have as many animals as some of these bigger, older zoos, but when I leave our zoo I don't feel sorry for the elephants for being in a tiny gravel paddock because ours are in a large, grassy yard that was created with utmost consideration for the animals--what you can't see is all the work that went into making sure that what was under the elephants' feet would not become too impacted and harm them. I enjoy seeing the large, quality habitats and everywhere I go at our zoo I see the potential and I know that in 15 more years this place is going to give every zoo in the country a run for its money. I feel that membership is a tremendous value for the price--sure, you won't see all the animals you could see somewhere like the San Diego Zoo, but you also won't pay what they would charge you. I was at the Bronx Zoo in October and I have to say, I spent a lot of time thinking about how our zoo here is better in so many ways. I really appreciate our zoo and I think you will too once you've gotten to know it on a deeper level. Keep using that membership! Spend more time watching the animals we do have. Go to some keeper talks. And look at all the construction areas and imagine what will be there for you down the road--it's going to be great!

11/4/2014 at 08:24 PM by Mindy Staggs

Not to pick on Dana, but I would like to express my appreciation to the Nashville Zoo for not having their animals 'right there, behind the glass'. I greatly appreciate the effort made to have such big, natural habitats for the animals on exhibit. I live 2 hours away and have been a zoo member for about 8 years now. I tell all my friends and coworkers how beautiful the exhibits are and how lovely the trees, flowers, and plants are along the walkways. When someone mentions that Memphis has more animals, I always emphasize what a better and more enjoyable experience they will have if they go to Nashville instead, and new animals are on the way! I can't wait to see the new animals, but I'd rather wait until they have a big, beautiful home ready than see them in a cage any day.

11/4/2014 at 09:07 PM by Lanell

I disagree with Dana. I am so thankful that our zoo makes the effort to see to the comfort of the animals. I would not want to be in a little enclosure behind glass. I have been a zoo member for several years and just renewed for 2 more years. To get more animals and to care for the animals they have takes money. If I lived 5 minutes away instead of over an hour I would be there much more often. It is a highly accredited zoo working very successfully with other zoos on some endangered species. Love the clouded leopards. Wish they could get some snow leopards too.

11/4/2014 at 09:17 PM by Chris O

I understand Dana's frustration, but I think the others here have given the perfect responses. I no longer have kids at home. My wife and I have passes every year and enjoy spending days at the zoo. We have participated in some of the "behind the scenes" offerings and have learned a great deal. I look forward to seeing how the zoo grows and what they can add, but know they will do so in the thoughtful and beautiful way they have created the existing areas. I am happy to support the work of the Nashville Zoo and wish I had the money to do more.

11/4/2014 at 09:44 PM by Karen

I agree with Dana. I was not impressed with the animals available. I have a 4 yr old granddaughter and she was very bored and was only interested in going to the playground:( was kind of disappointed that I had bought a membership before exploring the zoo. I had been there about 9 yrs ago as a school bus driver for school field teips and actually liked it better then and that's what I was basing my purchase on.

11/4/2014 at 11:43 PM by Cheryl

I had a zoo membership for 10+ years. I did not renew this year because my son left for college. We enjoyed our visits to the zoo and the fact that the exhibits are open with only a few having glass. We visited the Houston Zoo last summer. It did have a lot more animals and it was nice to see animals we don't have here. However, we both remarked how much nicer over all the Nashville Zoo was. Many of the Houston exhibits did have glass around them. Many times it was dirty or scratched up making it hard to see. Some areas had large wire or other security devices to keep the animals in that blocked your view. Both of these instances made it difficult to get good pictures of the animals. About the only complaint I have against the Nashville Zoo is that most times when they add a new animal they take something away. It would be nice to keep our current animals and continue to add and expand.

11/5/2014 at 05:42 AM by Judy Dewey

I live 4 hrs. away, but LOVE going to the Nashville Zoo when visiting family there. Having traveled in many countries where some of these animals roam wild and free, I am especially appreciative of the space and care provided to each animal. These animals, etc.; are lucky to have so much space and great care. I have also been to many zoos worldwide. In my viewpoint the Nashville Zoo is world class....the best I have seen. I personally enjoy hiking a bit to enjoy the wonderful animals and reptiles at this zoo. Can't wait to go again soon!!!

11/5/2014 at 07:25 AM by Allison

When I first went to the Nashville Zoo five or six years ago, it was nice to be able to walk around and not deal with crowds and getting lost (like the Columbus Zoo). I went again about a year ago and improvements are obvious, but there is plenty of room for more improvement. The entrance is not one of those items to improve on. Where are the plans for more parking? Where are the plans for modernizing the aquarium and reptile exhibits? Where are the plans for all the empty spots where exhibits can go? I know there is a master plan for the zoo, but prioritizing does not seem to be the zoo's strong suit.

11/5/2014 at 08:03 AM by RuthB

Thank you Nashville Zoo for striving to give your animals a more natural like habitat. Does it stink on days I take my daughter to the zoo and the elephants are so far away, yes, but it pleases us to see the amount of room the elephants have to roam. I was nearly sickened last time I visited the Louisville, KY Zoo. They had an Asian elephant and African elephant and had a cramped unnatural like habitat. My family truly appreciates Nashville's efforts on giving the animals a great zoo life! You are doing great, keep up the good work and conservation! To those that are critizing them on updating other exhibits etc...it takes money to do those things so instead of complaining get out your checkbook and lets help them out! :)

11/5/2014 at 08:56 AM by KaleighB

What makes the Nashville Zoo so unique and amazing are the realistic enviroments, large animal exhibits and the natural, shaded thoroughfares. It is not a concrete jungle and we love and appreciate that. We have several members who have visited our zoo from out of state and have immediately noted how different it is right when you walk in. I have a real problem with circuses (an entirely different topic) and inhumane treatment of animals, and I have never had an ill feeling about the well-being of the animals at the Nashville Zoo.

11/5/2014 at 09:20 AM by Geoff Davin

I'm so glad to see that so many people have spoken against Dana's ridiculous complaint. The animals, without a doubt, do not want to be in a zoo. They do not want to be right there for people to gawk at all day. The more space they have to get away when they're stressed, the more relaxed and happier they will be. I so appreciate that the Nashville Zoo gets that and gives these animals as much space as they do. I find it so depressing to go to a zoo in which the animals don't have a place to go to get away from people. When I go to a good zoo with spacious habitats, I feel lucky to catch a glimpse of an animal. If I don't see the animal that time, then that's just more reason to come back again on another day. The animals are not there to perform for us. They are live creatures who are living in an unnatural habitat. The Nashville Zoo does a fantastic job and I consider myself lucky to have such a great zoo so close to home.

11/5/2014 at 12:08 PM by Lonnie Peddle

I started taking my first grandson to Grassmere before it was a zoo about 30 years ago. As 4 more grandchildren came along we continued the fun. These are fond memories that we still talk about. Now in our 80's my husband and I enjoy walking, seeing the trees/plants and the animals in a more natural environment. We look forward to seeing the improvements over the next year. Thank You

11/5/2014 at 02:56 PM by Jamie

I have been a member of the zoo since my daughter was born (4yrs ago). Yes my daughter does get bored too at times and much rather play on the playground then walk around to see the animals. But again she is 4! I expect she will be more interested when she is older. She does, however, enjoy the community activities at the zoo such as movie night, Easter egg hunt and Ghouls at Grassmere. I especially love being able to take her trick or treating in a safe environment that hands out different treats besides just candy! I really appreciate the wonderful things the Nashville Zoo has to offer!

11/9/2014 at 10:58 AM by Scott

I am quite a fan of zoos. As such, I've had the opportunity to visit many of them over the years both as part of zoo programs as a child and as an adult with children of my own. I have to agree and disagree with some of the comments here. While I do agree that some of the exhibits at the Nashville Zoo are nice (especially the elephant area) for the animals, they don't make for a very good visitor experience. First, while you do want to design enclosures that make the animals comfortable, if we can't see them (or they're too far away) then they might as well not be there. Second, I feel that the exhibits at the zoo are arranged entirely too far apart. While I don't mind walking, please don't put one single solitary animal way in the back and require me to walk 2 miles just to be disappointed. Start from the entrance and grow out (or back-fill) in a planned manner. Third, please don't do any construction during your busy season (especially member nights). There's no quicker way to ruin an experience than to have areas closed and animals behind chain link fences or off exhibit. In all, while I have issues with the way it is currently run and arranged, I am hopeful that the coming changes will signal the beginning of a better zoo experience for Nashville and yes, MORE ANIMALS.

11/12/2014 at 10:44 AM by Miranda

My family and I were pioneer members of Grassmere Wildlife Park (meaning we were patrons before the Park was even completed and got to tour it in that state as well), which was started in 1990 (which would have been almost 25 years ago, Lonnie, not 30); we also joined the Nashville Zoo immediately when it was founded in Cheatham County the next year. Grassmere was small and intimate, and I loved it. I was slightly less enamored with the Zoo at the time, as I felt too much greenery had been sacrificed in favor of open plains and pavement. I always liked and still like the Nolensville Road location's commitment in attempting to keep the exhibits integrated with the natural environment. Once the Zoo finally moved into the Grassmere property (in 1997) and officially became the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere (in 2001), they have made leaps and bounds forward. I personally participated in the building of the playground, which was an amazing volunteer contribution to the site. Considering Grassmere only had about 10 animals (gray wolves, bison, black bears, cougars, river otters, bald eagles, deer, turkeys, and Przewalski's horses) out on the property, the Zoo has come a long way. I believe its development is too slow for those who desire instantaneous gratification (see Dana's comment), but it is methodical and purposeful, which in the end will make it a better and lasting institution. Lastly, Erin is precisely on point when she notes that our Zoo is in its infancy when compared to older and consequently larger zoos across the United States.

11/20/2014 at 07:58 AM by carola

I want to throw my support behind the incredible staff and volunteers at the zoo. We joined the zoo 8 years ago when my daughter was a young toddler. Since, I have seen many of the same faces caring for the animals and visitors year after year. They always take time to share their knowledge, and they clearly care for the well being of the animals. You will probably notice they sometimes act like bodyguards for the animals. while the development can be disruptive, they accomplish projectsas quickly as possible. As for replacing animals instead of adding more, sometimes that is a good thing. I would much rather have the kangaroo walk about than the wild dogs exhibit. My only sadness is that crowds at events nowadays are more difficult to navigate. I have noticed older zoos are now trying to go more towards the open natural feel. Nashville Zoo seems to be a model for places like the Louisville Zoo, which is remodeling some areas. Visit often because you will start to feel at home at this zoo with southern hospitality and history.

11/29/2014 at 08:16 PM by

yes please Keep the zoo natural I would rather you all take your time at getting animals than to throw them into unnatural environments and cages... keep up your great work

12/12/2014 at 01:39 PM by Alison

Love being members of the Nashville Zoo...A suggestion for a great addition would be a splash pad for the summer. Toddlers and kids would love it, and it would be a great way to cool off on a hot day. The Louisville and Jacksonville Zoos have them and they are so much fun.

12/12/2014 at 01:40 PM by Alison

Love being members of the Nashville Zoo...A suggestion for a great addition would be a splash pad for the summer. Toddlers and kids would love it, and it would be a great way to cool off on a hot day. The Louisville and Jacksonville Zoos have them and they are so much fun.

1/6/2015 at 12:19 PM by Pia

I love Nashville zoo! I have been in so many zoos... This zoo have a beautiful enviroment , this are happy animals that enjoy their space and wonderful care :) I don't get how people complain about how much cost the pass... Any pass will cost that! Thats the average.... Great zoo!!! We live in Huntsville and drive 2 hours my twins love it! Thank you for the great job you do !

1/6/2015 at 12:20 PM by Pia

I love Nashville zoo! I have been in so many zoos... This zoo have a beautiful enviroment , this are happy animals that enjoy their space and wonderful care :) I don't get how people complain about how much cost the pass... Any pass will cost that! Thats the average.... Great zoo!!! We live in Huntsville and drive 2 hours my twins love it! Thank you for the great job you do !

1/6/2015 at 12:21 PM by Pia

I love Nashville zoo! I have been in so many zoos... This zoo have a beautiful enviroment , this are happy animals that enjoy their space and wonderful care :) I don't get how people complain about how much cost the pass... Any pass will cost that! Thats the average.... Great zoo!!! We live in Huntsville and drive 2 hours my twins love it! Thank you for the great job you do !

1/6/2015 at 12:23 PM by Pia

I love Nashville zoo! I have been in so many zoos... This zoo have a beautiful enviroment , this are happy animals that enjoy their space and wonderful care :) I don't get how people complain about how much cost the pass... Any pass will cost that! Thats the average.... Great zoo!!! We live in Huntsville and drive 2 hours my twins love it! Thank you for the great job you do !

1/11/2015 at 06:38 PM by page

I remember when the zoo was Grassmere and we had lots more interesting animals as Miranda listed.. I wish they were back. I think the Memphis and Atlanta zoo has more interesting and incredible exhibits. There is no way you can tell the age of the zoos as they are ran extremely well with great viewing capabilities. The biggest issue I see as being a long time member of Nashville is being able to walk the pathways easily to view the exhibits. During crowded times it is a little hectic but I have never found this in other zoos around the region and I have visited or membered all of them including Knoxville and Chattanooga. There are many areas that could be reused to better purpose the zoo to bring in more exhibits as this is a zoo not a playground. The zoo has made great strides and I hope to see much much more in the future. But bring back some of the great exhibits of the past...........gray wolves, black bears, bison, African wild dogs etc... also native creatures to the TN area would be a great asset... not just snakes and reptiles.

3/23/2015 at 11:59 AM by T. Webster

In reading the reviews of the Nashville Zoo, thought I'd add my two cents worth.....have a granddaughter wanting to go to the zoo, we've been to Birmingham Zoo many times, I've been to the Nashville Zoo once and that was several+ years ago; I recall not seeing the animals up close - agree on the comments that they are in more of a natural setting - however, it is a frustrating to not see the animals up close - you really had to look for them in some of the settings as they blended right in. The walkways were nice, however, allot of up and down hill from what I recall. So as for the reviews, doesn't look as tho it's changed, so unfortunately having 2nd thoughts about visiting the Nashville Zoo.

3/28/2015 at 05:22 PM by Mikie

Just like no two people are alike, no two zoos are alike either. Yep..it has it's areas that need improvement. No doubt. But, I think after reading all these comments, we can and should... 1) Appreciate the Nashville Zoo for what positives it DOES have ... 2) Appreciate all the hard work the staff and volunteers do to make this zoo the best for Nashville and TN ... 3) Just have fun with our families and friends and enjoy nature as much as we can. We only have one world and one life to make it the best we can. We can accomplish so much as humans, and I think the animals will always be thankful for that ;-)

4/24/2015 at 04:53 PM by Karen T.

Hi I agree w/Dana. I'm from Ohio and our Cleveland Zoo has so much to offer. We have Monkey Island, seals, polar bears, panda's, shark & fish aquariums, hippos, gorillas, lions etc. I understand that Nashville Zoo has been open since 1999, but for the money we pay for parking, entry, eating & souvenirs, then we should have plenty to look at. The animals are spaced so far apart from one exhibit to the next and then they are hiding behind stuff and you can't see them. It's a beautiful zoo, but I was disappointed too. I hope you add a lot more exciting animals & close up the large gaps in between, so it's not so far from exhibit to exhibit. Thank you for listening and looking forward to visiting again, once some new exhibits have been added.

5/5/2015 at 08:14 PM by KJ

You need to get some Lions, Bears, Penguins and other unique animals as well. I love the Nashville zoo but there needs to be some more additions made to the animals. Also the walk to see the Elephants is very lengthy and tiring especially when you have several little kids. Keep up the good work and look forward to new additions as well.

4/22/2016 at 06:54 PM by markesha

We from Robinsonville MS and I came here to take my kids to the Nashville zoo is its OK and is it worth the money!!!

4/22/2016 at 06:55 PM by markesha

We going tomorrow

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