Our Blog

Zoo Construction: Progress Report for Fall 2016

This is an update to our construction blog post from earlier this year.

2016 has been a year of building at Nashville Zoo.

More than 800,000 guests have walked our pathways to witness new and exciting areas under construction, and we appreciate the patience and words of encouragement you have given us this year!


Progress Report: White Rhinoceros Exhibit

Our White Rhinoceros exhibit (formerly the African Elephant Savannah) needed several alterations to insure a safe and comfortable environment for our incoming rhino herd. Heavy vehicles used inside the habitat caused turf destruction across large areas. We have sewn new grass and will let it establish before releasing rhinos into the exhibit.


Progress Report: Spider Monkey, Andean Bear & Tiger Exhibits

Setbacks in both our Spider Monkey and Andean Bear exhibits have delayed openings beyond the warmer seasons. Guests can expect to see the monkey exhibit opening in early spring and our large Andean Bear area opening by the start of summer. Our renovated tiger exhibit is aggressively moving forward while we complete major work on the two exhibits mentioned above. Our plan is to have an enhanced tiger exhibit ready by mid-summer.


New Project: Parking Lot Re-Development

2017 will be a monumental year for Nashville Zoo and we expect more guests than ever before. To help prepare, we will be re-developing the original, central parking area to make room for additional spaces. Our plan is to begin work during our slower, winter months and be finished by spring.


We are working diligently to complete all of our work as quickly as possible. Our passion for creating outstanding animal environments requires careful thought and attention to detail. The end result will be a beautiful zoological park and a source of pride for Nashville. We appreciate your support of the Zoo and welcome you to join us in celebrating our 20th year at Grassmere with the opening of these outstanding additions.


Here are some photos to provide you with a visual update on our progress and plans:

Spider Monkey Exhibit Construction


Andean Bear Exhibit Construction


Tiger Exhibit Construction

Posted by Nashville Zoo at 11:15 AM


11/3/2016 at 02:20 AM by Susan McNill

So much progress! I'm happy for you, guys. 2016 has really been a year of Nashville Zoo rapid development. And every new feature brought new colors and ideas for the future. Nashville Zoo will be a paradise. And it is actually now. Susan

11/3/2016 at 02:35 PM by Jennifer Blalock

Will the elephants ever be back ?

11/3/2016 at 02:56 PM by Lee Lindsay

Having move here from California we had great expectations of what we would see at the Nashville Zoo. We made one visit in June and haven't been back because we were really disappointed. There were no tigers, bears or elephants and with two young children (5 & 6) these were what the girls were interested in seeing. Now, apparently we still won't be able to see those animals until 2017! For a city this large it is really a shame that the zoo is not representative of such an important and exciting city. Sadly, we are sorry that we purchased annual passes because the zoo is no longer on our visit list when coming to Nashville. Just our opinion, sorry.

11/3/2016 at 02:59 PM by Dolores Kaplan

Love the zoo & our grandkids love it even more. Questions: 1) What happened to the elephants & will they be back? 2) Anaconda: It seems like the enclosed is extremely small & it can't even stretch out. Thank you

11/3/2016 at 03:25 PM by Sarah

We are so excited about the future of the zoo and all the great things coming. We are especially excited to see the rhinos! They will be a welcome addition until we see our Elephants again. Everything is looking great and our zoo is going to be truly spectacular after all the additions are finished.

11/3/2016 at 03:50 PM by John Richardson

Congratulations to the Nashville Zoo on their efforts to hold the highest standards when growing and expanding, as well as for their efforts in wildlife conversation beyond the public view; efforts that most often go unnoticed by the general public. The value and mission of good zoos goes far beyond the simple display of large, 'fan favorite' species. Breeding programs and research are paramount in the effort to preserve all species for future generations; things that Nashville Zoo are highly involved in. Every single exhibit at the Nashville is well thought out, state of the art and designed and construction with both the animals and public in mind; this is VERY rare in zoos. Lee Lindsay, I encourage you find a nice fall or spring day, take your children to the zoo and do three things: 1) Visit Lorikeet Landing and feed these beautiful birds nectar with your children 2) Visit Kangaroo Kickabout and have an up-close experience with the kangaroos 3) Visit the Shell Station and feed the sulcata tortoises I promise that these three things alone with far outdo the experience of viewing an elephant from a distance or a tiger sleeping at the back of his exhibit. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the big traditional animals as much as the next person (I cannot wait for the rhinos! ;), I just know the Nashville Zoo has a LOT to offer beyond the norm.

11/3/2016 at 03:52 PM by Alex

Will the elephants return soon?

11/3/2016 at 04:27 PM by Cindy

We've purchased season passes a couple years in a row going it would be better but still this Zoo needs a lot more animals and exhibits, just disappointing moving here from a big city (Chicago) this place just doesn't measure up to what my family is used to expecting when visiting a "zoo"

11/3/2016 at 05:05 PM by Jim McFadden

It's been kind of like waiting for the Cubs to win the World Series. It finally did happen. Have been waiting a l-o-n-g time for these exhibits to happen & it now looks like the middle of 2017 before we can see them all. But, it will happen which is good. Just hate to wait so long and we have had visitors that have been disappointed due to the lack of some animals. Lions, Bears (big ones), elephants, etc. Would love to see the giant ant eaters on exhibit as they are a fascinating animal. I'm 75 and still a kid at heart. Love the zoo.

11/3/2016 at 05:08 PM by Tracy Taylor

Will the elephants be back?

11/3/2016 at 05:55 PM by Jane Condurelis

We have had season passes for many years. My grandchildren and I come every other week for short visits (2-3 hrs) and sometimes every week. Although it has been disappointing that the tigers and elephants are not there and the construction has taken longer than we expected, we have stilled enjoyed our visits. The Reptile/Fish/Spider house is so fun. Every visit is like a living "Where is Waldo" as we hunt for critters. The playground is awesome too. We are excited to have the new additions and animals next year.

11/3/2016 at 06:00 PM by Dana Croy

So exciting! I know it has been a hard year with so many changes and some exhibits closed as the Zoo improves. Don't be discouraged by naysayers. You are all doing a fantastic job! I remember when you opened in Joelton some 25 years or more ago and the changes through the years have been amazing. I love my city and the zoo.

11/3/2016 at 06:01 PM by Andranee

I bought a zoo membership this the expectation to get a huge bang for my buck and I'm so disappointed. I'm afraid I'm going to have my membership expire before we get to see any of the new exhibits which was the entire reason why we got the membership!

11/3/2016 at 06:28 PM by Lee Peterson

Lee Lindsay, sorry you were disappointed with the zoo during your recent visit. Unfortunately, after 19 years some improvements are necessary. The zoo, like most of Nashville is undergoing a unique transformation and the expansion will prove to be incredible. The master plan undeniably is a massive undertaking resulting in some of the animals being moved off exhibit while their new habitats are created. The animals and staff are being inconvenienced as well but making the most of the situation. Please come back once construction is complete and you will truly enjoy one of the best zoos in the world! Lee Peterson

11/3/2016 at 07:03 PM by Terry Wentzel

I bought season passes for my family an grandkids to see the new animals. But the last time we went not many animals an then I learn it will be next year before everything opens.so that means I will have to buy season passes for next year so can you be for sure everything is going to be done. I don't want to disappoint them again

11/3/2016 at 07:38 PM by Brenda Gilliam

We enjoy coming to the zoo. can't wait to you get the rest of the animals in. we hope yall get more elephants. thank you

11/3/2016 at 09:38 PM by ALYCIA WATHEN

I agree with the above. We renew our zoo passes with the belief that all the exhibits would be finished. We have only been twice this year plus once for boo at the zoo, which was one of the worst experiences we have had at the zoo. Too many strollers and wagons. If your kid is in a stroller should it really need candy? Clogged up all the walkways for an already busy event. I never had a problem seeing animals and crowded events at the Jacksonville zoo during their renovation.

11/4/2016 at 07:15 AM by Cindy Bradford

We visit the zoo quiet often. We also have annual passes for myself and my grandkids... yes it is disappointing to not have the tigers and elephants... I know the tigers will be back, as far as the elephants I do not believe they will be back... As Lee Lindsay mentioned above.. I am also from California and let me be the first to tell you that the Sacramento Zoo is no better then Nashville and maybe even worse.. I don't know what part of California they live in but knocking Nashville for being a large city and not having the required animals as he might want is not right.. and Sacramento is a very large city also and the capital so what is their excuse?.... anyhow, back to Nashville... I will be glad to see all the improvements, been waiting for a while now.. very excited to see what the Nashville Zoo has to offer... thank you for expanding and trying to give the animals the much needed area and bringing different animals into the zoo...

11/4/2016 at 07:48 AM by Lynn

Wow, there are some entitled people leaving comments about construction. In order to progress sometimes you can do one thing at a time - sometimes it take multiple parts moving at the same time to have an amazing end result. Quit whining. Good things are coming. Maybe do some research before assuming something will be ready to view.

11/4/2016 at 08:39 AM by Nelly Smith

Is the zoo planning to get Lions too sometime next year?

11/4/2016 at 10:54 AM by Ray

Love our Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. Even in the summer months, you can take many strolls on the shaded paths. All 6 of our grandchildren never get tired of their repeat visits. I don't know of any Zoo that has such an imaginative and fun kid zone Jungle Gym. Our last visit had included the highlight of petting a kangaroo! Looking forward to your new exhibits and plan on many more Annual Passes!

11/4/2016 at 02:35 PM by leeanne Mitchell

Thank you for the update! Where it sometimes seems long for a new or renavated exhibit to get finished, I am patient and content knowing that our Nashville Zoo has the best interest of the animals in mind. I have always been impressed and pleased with the habitats of the animals. I miss the elephants also, but realize they had had enough and needed to rest at the elephant santuary. I hope one day we will see new elephants at the Nashville Zoo. Thank you for your hard work and taking such good care of our Nashville Animals! Leeanne .......... I advise the Californians to take advantage of the reciprical zoos and Aquarium in Tennesse and other states as well - this way you will not feel you've wasted your money: and hopefully you will get another chance to visit the Nashville Zoo when the new exhibits are finished!

11/6/2016 at 07:35 PM by Nikki

So glad the exhibits are growing but it kind of sad that we purchased a family pass and my kids didn't want to see anything because they say it's boring !!! The animals little kids love the most are MIA ! Time to step it up Nashville !

11/12/2016 at 03:45 AM by Jay

I'm really excited about the future of the Nashville Zoo. I, too, grew up with the Zoos in Chicago and I was intially not impressed with the zoos in Tennessee. But the Nashville Zoo was a different story. I loved the lay out and it really seemed like they were doing the best by the animals. Plus, the second Congo came up and said "hi", I was sold. At this point, I prefer it to the painfully noisy Brookfield Zoo of my childhood. Along those lines, I hope the elephants don't come back. I think the Rhinos will be a fantastic addition. And I can't wait for the Bears and Tigers. Needless to say, I'm very impressed with this Zoo and I trust the direction they are heading.

11/12/2016 at 03:50 AM by Jay

I, too, grew up with the wonderful zoos in Chicago. And I wasn't very impressed with the zoos in Tennessee. But I really do enjoy the Nashville Zoo. There is a conscience effort here to create the best environment possible for their animals /and/ allow their guests to see them. I think it was amazingly classy and appropiate for the Zoo to send their elephants to the Sanctuary and they should be applauded for it. And along those lines, I hope they don't bring a herd back. I am content with the rhinos(and I can't wait to see them!) And these upcoming exhibits look amazing and I'm more than willing to wait. I certainly understand why people would be disappointed in what they're paying for, but I don't really think that can be helped. They're building an amazing zoo and sometimes(all the time) construction projects laugh at projected timelines. Be patient. It'll be worth it in the long run.

11/14/2016 at 09:32 PM by Patricia Fields

I also miss the elephants and the tigers, but I understand that you have to move the animals for construction to be done. My grandkids still enjoy the zoo. I brought two of my grandkids yesterday and we really enjoyed our day.

12/3/2016 at 09:31 PM by Lanell

I am disappointed in people complaining about the zoo and comparing it to some other big city. I am so thankful our zoo puts the comfort and well being of the animals first. Please keep doing the wonderful job that you do. The price of the membership I have had for several years helps provide for these creatures.

12/4/2016 at 01:02 PM by Stephanie D.

All in all, I am very surprised at how all the construction is done at the same time, but I also know that good things come with time and patience. The spider monkey & tiger exhibit areas look like they are progressing more rapidly than I thought. I am very excited to about the next upcoming year and was so happy that I got to buy a membership for my family this year. We have visited many times, and enjoyed seeing how things are progressing along. My children still enjoyed the zoo fully, without elphants, tigers and the other animals for construction. There is a lot of other places to see and do at the zoo, beside the construction areas. I am more than happy that my local zoo is updating and taking extra care when building their exhibits. I rather be safe and have the wait, than have someone to slap up something and someone get hurt or killed. Well done, Nashville Zoo, and keep up the good work. Merry Christmas for my family to yours!~

12/29/2016 at 06:50 PM by Jennifer Luttman

Like another person said above. I purchased my membership in June of 2016 and everything big was closed because of construction but they said it would open back up before my membership canceled in a year. Well now they are saying it will probably be midsummer before it's all finished, about July of 2017? Which happens to be 1 month after my membership renewal is due.

2/2/2017 at 02:09 PM by Linda Mosley

I have been a zoo member for many years and enjoy coming to visit with family and friends on a regular basis. The transformation of the zoo this past year is amazing. So sad to read the article in the Tennessean this past January that of the four Nashville elephants, only Sukari remains living. My sincere condolences on the passing of these three amazing animals. I hope in the future that the Zoo will find more elephants to take their place. It is always a highlight of our visit.

2/4/2017 at 02:20 PM by Rita

Will any of the big exhibits be open in the month of May we are thinking about bringing our pre-kindergarten class there for a trip

2/8/2017 at 08:43 AM by Veren

Like we well know that they are saying it will probably be building their exhibits rather be safe and have the wait for more info good going. Keep it up Nashville Zoo

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