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Zoo Construction: Progress Report for Winter 2017

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


2017 is a year of discovery for guests visiting Nashville Zoo. Along with the Zoo’s celebration of its 20th anniversary at Grassmere, guests will also celebrate and experience the openings of four new animal exhibits: Andean bear, Mexican spider monkey, Sumatran tiger, and Southern white rhino. Over 890,000 visitors strolled along pathways in 2016 and witnessed the construction progress of each of these unique exhibits. Everyone here at the Zoo shares the excitement and anticipation of the openings, and we thank you for your patience and support during this time of change and transformation for Nashville Zoo. 

 

What animals are off exhibit due to construction?

Most of the Zoo is not affected by our construction. You can still walk through our popular Kangaroo Kickabout, get up close to our birds in Lorikeet Landing, watch apes play on Gibbon Islands and experience dozens of animal exhibits that have been at the Zoo for years.

These exhibits are closed:

  • Elephants – Last year, our elephants safely moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN so we could begin our long-term plans to eventually expand our elephant collection.
  • Tiger – This exhibit was built in 1989 and was in great need of renovation. The new plans call for an expanded outdoor area for the cats and closer viewing options for our guests.
  • Eurasian Lynx –The exhibit has been closed since early 2015 due to the construction taking place next door at our new Andean Bear exhibit.
  • Red Ruffed Lemur –  This exhibit has been closed for the safety of the animals so we can replace the mesh netting surrounding the habitat. 
  • Porcupine and Cougar  – Both of these exhibits have recently been closed due to the construction taking place at the spider monkey exhibit. The cougar exhibit is one of the original exhibits at the Zoo, and the bridge was in great need of maintenance and renovation for the safety of guests and both cougars residing in the habitat. 
 
 

Construction Progress Report

Setbacks in both our Spider Monkey and Andean Bear exhibits have delayed openings. Guests can expect to see the monkey exhibit opening in early spring and our large Andean Bear area opening by 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 the end of summer.

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

Spider Monkey Exhibit Construction

Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce the opening of a new spider monkey exhibit, graciously funded by Dottie Frist, on Thursday, April 6. The addition of Mexican spider monkeys will mark the first monkey species to be housed at Nashville Zoo in more than four years. Learn more about our newest treetop exhibit here. 

Aerial rendering of the spider monkey exhibit shows the viewing building, holding area, entry/exit bridges, and outdoor habitat.
Recent construction photos from early February 2017.

 

Andean Bear Exhibit Construction
Aerial photo of the Andean bear exhibit taken in October 2016.
Recent construction photos from early February 2017.

 

Tiger Exhibit Construction
Aerial photo of the tiger exhibit construction taken in October 2016.

 

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.

 
 

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.

Posted by Nashville Zoo at 11:15 AM

Comments

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


2/23/2017 at 02:37 PM by Danielle

All you people complaining about the elephants not being at the zoo.....The Nashville Zoo does the best job it can in recreating habitats for its vulnerable animal inhabitants, but you DO realize that elephants naturally roam up to hundreds of miles per day, right? Captive elephants have a whole host of health afflictions and ailments that are directly caused by being kept in small (comparatively speaking) enclosures. Thank you, Nashville Zoo, for allowing your elephants the opportunity to live out their lives at a true elephant sanctuary and for giving other species the opportunity to have a special place in your zoo. I'm looking forward to seeing the bears, rhinos, and hopefully anteaters, once their enclosures are properly ready!


2/24/2017 at 02:41 PM by Mckae

I'm really excited about the rhinocero's.


3/2/2017 at 11:01 AM by Jessica Young

I am truly disappointed that zoo representatives will not give any kind of timeline on as to when the new exhibits will open. We didn't renew our membership when it ran out in Nov 2016 because we were tired of visiting and so much was roped off, so many exhibits closed or empty. Also, it really breaks my heart that no kind of "In Memoriam" type post was made at the end of the year when 2 or the 3 former resident elephants passed away after being moved to the sanctuary in Hohenwald. That was in poor taste. They were at the zoo for years and no mention was made of their passing. So sad.


3/2/2017 at 12:39 PM by John Richardson

Since some people refuse to read, here is the very specific time-line information that is all laid-out in the above article: Spider Monkey exhibit: Thursday April 6th Andean Bear exhibit: end of spring/beginning of summer Tiger exhibit: by the end of summer


3/2/2017 at 01:24 PM by Donnie Johnson

I started coming to the Nashville Zoo in 2015 after the death of our son, And it has been wonderful life change for me. Although some of the animals are gone now there is still plenty of enjoyment there, the kangaroo walk through offers an opportunity to pet and just spend time with those wonderful animals. I will say the giraffes are by far my favorite animal in this world, but this Zoo offers many more animals to see. And the house tours , and events put on there is a added bonus. We have visited other zoos recently and found for the short time The Nashville Zoo has been around it measures up great. And my grandchildren love going every time.Thank you Nashville.


3/7/2017 at 12:38 AM by Big Mac

Glad to support the zoo as members and the zoo growth is exciting yet expected due to our metro population and overall lack of major exhibits. We moved from Omaha 6 yrs ago. The Omaha zoo was just rated this week #1 zoo in the world by trip advisor. Omaha has 1/2 the population as Nashville and Nashville is growing much faster. Largest indoor jungle, 500k gallon shark tank with 70' walkthru tunnel, largest aviary, 5th largest cat complex, largest geodesic dome desert. I'm not putting down our zoo in Nashville, I want it to contiue to expand and grow. Think big, bold and beautiful Nashville zoo board, we your members will continue to donate, and together we'll all help educate our youth, save rare endangered species and make this a top tier zoo. Exciting! (CNN) -- The new Travelers' Choice awards for Zoos and Aquariums around the world issued by travel website TripAdvisor. Naming 275 zoos and aquariums in total, the awards call the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, the world's best. The San Diego Zoo in California comes in second place. Monterey, California's Monterey Bay Aquarium tops the list of world aquariums. "The U.S. leads the tally of world lists of zoos and aquariums, with nine of the top 25 zoos (and) 10 of the top 25 world aquariums," said the U.S.-based website in a statement accompanying the announcement of the awards. The site says its awards are based on "millions" of reviews from its users. "Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews for zoos and aquariums worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period," said the website. Renamed and reorganized in the 1960s by the Omaha Zoological Society, the Henry Doorly Zoo has roots dating to the 1880s when, as Riverview Park, it contained about 120 animals, including two bison on loan from "Buffalo Bill" Cody. Today, the zoo has "thousands of animals from around the globe, 130 acres of exhibits and gardens including seven acres of indoor exhibits," according to the zoo. The highest-ranking non-U.S. zoos in the survey are Spain's Loro Parque (#3 overall) and Singapore Zoo (#5 overall). The highest-ranking non-U.S. aquariums are Portugal's Oceanario de Lisboa (#2 overall) and Greece's Aquaworld Aquarium (#6 overall). The complete list of TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards for zoos is online at TripAdvisor.com. The complete list of aquariums is also at TripAdvisor.com. World's top 10 zoos according to TripAdvisor 1. Henry Doorly Zoo (Omaha, Nebraska) 2. San Diego Zoo (San Diego) 3. Loro Parque (Puerto de la Cruz, Spain) 4. St. Louis Zoo (St. Louis) 5. Singapore Zoo (Singapore) 6. Chester Zoo (Chester, UK) 7. Prague Zoo (Prague) 8. Tiergarten Schoenbrunn—Zoo Vienna (Vienna) 9. Bioparc Valencia (Valencia, Spain) 10. Gramado Zoo (Gramado, Brazil)


3/7/2017 at 08:04 PM by Wendy

We've had annual passes since my kiddos were little and I'm so excited for all the new stuff! My kids are close to "aging out" but we're proud supporters of our zoo. From conservation efforts to school services (we attend the homeschool days ), we sincerely appreciate what you bring to our community.


3/12/2017 at 04:16 PM by Ann

LOVED Boo at the Zoo 2016! My kids that went are 11, 12, and 4, and we all had the best time. All the kids seemed to enjoy it. None of mine are in strollers any more, but the person who commented that kids in strollers don't need candy lost me. Why? It's a fun, delightful experience for all ages! Will definitely do next year!


3/16/2017 at 11:48 AM by Tracy

It was my daughters birthday and we decided to make the 2 hour drive from Decatur Alabama to visit the Nashville Zoo. You would think that Nashville being the large and well known city would have a zoo full of animals. I was so DISAPPOINTED !!!!! I did not know of the construction at the zoo which made it so confusing to get around. When we walked in a direction of an arrow showing us where to go, we would hit a dead end or an empty exibit! When I asked an employee of the zoo where the Giraffes were, she said she didn't know. I paid $16 per person for 8 people to visit the Zoo, plus I had to pay $10 for parking of two cars. We didn't see any of the animals you would normally see at any other zoo: Lions, Tigers, Bears, Elephants, Rinos, Hippos, Polar Bears, Seals, Penguins. That is quite a list of animals missing from your so called "ZOO".


3/18/2017 at 09:04 AM by Sandy

What a disappointment! I actually heard so many good things but when I came it was all lies. We need some major changes at this zoo. New management! These people are here for just a check.


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