Upcoming Events

  • Hellbender Keeper Talk

    Feb 10th, 2016
    10:00am - 10:15am
    Unseen New World

    The largest salamander in Tennessee, hellbenders can be found in the eastern two thirds of the state. Hellbender populations have gone through dramatic declines across their range over the last 20 years and are now a candidate species for endangered status listing. Hellbenders will spend their entire lives in water. They prefer cold fast moving water with high levels of oxygen due to the fact that 95% of their oxygen is absorbed through their skin. Their tiny eyes can detect light but are not very good at forming images. Hellbenders are solitary nocturnal animals who spend the daytime hiding under rocks. A meeting between two hellbenders will usually result in a fight between them. You can see our hellbenders in Unseen New World.

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  • Red Panda Keeper Talk

    Feb 10th, 2016
    2:00pm - 2:15pm
    Bamboo Trail
    The red pandas were once thought to be relatives of raccoons and bears but research has now put them in their own animal family Ailuridae. Red pandas are solitary and they rarely interact with another red panda outside of mating season. Breeding season is in the early winter with most births being in June. Similarly to their giant panda relatives red pandas have a wrist bone that acts like a thumb to help them grip bamboo. You can see our red pandas on Bamboo Trail.
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  • River Tank Feeding

    Feb 11th, 2016
    9:45am - 10:00am
    Unseen New World

    Some of the largest rivers on Earth travel through tropical rain forests. The Amazon has 1,100 tributaries, carries over 500 billion cubic feet of water per day, and has a mouth that is nearly 300 miles wide. Rivers that size have tremendous diversity within them and along their banks, including insects, reptiles, invertebrates, fish, and mammals.

    Within the river tanks in Unseen New World you can see some of this diversity including several species of cichlids. There are over 1600 species of cichlids making them one of the largest vertebrate families in the animal kingdom. You can spot Silver Arowana which can trace their ancestors back to dinosaurs from the Jurassic period. The white-blotched river stingray, one of the rarest in the world, is also visible in the river tanks. You can also spot some of the reptile diversity of tropical rivers such as the green basilisk which is known for its ability to run across water to escape danger. 

    Visiting the river tanks in Unseen New World allows you to get a small glimpse of the great diversity found in tropical rivers. 

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  • Aviary Keeper Talk

    Feb 11th, 2016
    11:00am - 11:15am
    Unseen New World

    The Zoo’s tropical aviary is home to more than 10 species of birds native to Central America, South America and Africa. From ground level or a tree-top level mezzanine, guest can peer into a thick canopy of tropical foliage to spot birds like the black and yellow cacique and its gourd-shape nest or the endangered green woodhoopoe, one of the noisiest birds in the aviary. Closer examination of the aviary may also reveal two lizard species; the anole and the basilisk. The Zoo’s aviary is best accessed from inside the Unseen New World across from our display of frogs.

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  • Africa Field Keeper Talk

    Feb 11th, 2016
    2:00pm - 2:15pm

    Africa field is home to several species including Ostrich, Eland, Bontebok, and other antelope species. 

    The ostrich is the largest flightless bird in the world. They can run about 40 miles an hour covering 10-16 feet with a single stride. The ostrich will often use their wings as rudders to help change direction quickly while running. Ostriches will live in groups of about 12 birds. All the females of the group will place their eggs in the nest of the dominant female. A single ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 chicken eggs! Ostriches can often be found around other grazing animals like antelope and zebras. Ostriches have great eyesight and will often alert other animals of predators in the area. It is myth that ostriches head their heads in the sand. They will put their necks close to the ground to try and hide from predators, from a distance it appears that their head is in the sand.

    Eland are one of the largest hooved animals in the world. They are very adaptable animals with the ability to live in all environments except deserts, forests, and swamps. They are some of the slowest antelope, running only 25 miles per hour. Eland will live in herds of up to 25. There may be more than one male but only the dominant male will have access to females for breeding. Calves are born after a 9 month gestation period and hide after they are born for protection. 

    The bontebok was nearly extinct in the wild but the creation of Bontebok National Park and breeding on game farms led to the current population of over 2,000 existing throughout southern Africa. Their current conservation status includes the closely related blesbok of which 250,000 exist. They graze during the day on grasses in small groups of about 10. Males will mark their territory with dung and participate in challenge rituals with neighboring males. Both males and females will grow horns. 

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  • Rhino Iguana Keeper Talk

    Feb 12th, 2016
    9:30am - 9:45am
    Unseen New World
    The rhinoceros iguana gets its name from the bumps on its snout which are most pronounced on male iguanas.  Breeding will happen at 2 to 3 years of age with males using head bobs and their spines along their back to attract females.  Females will dig burrows to incubate the eggs, there is no parental care after the eggs hatch.  Rhinoceros iguanas are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day.  They spend their nights in rock crevices, caves, or burrows they have dug.  Rhinoceros iguanas are threatened by habitat destruction, invasive species, and illegal hunting.  You can see our iguanas inside Unseen New World.        
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  • Bat Keeper Talk

    Feb 12th, 2016
    9:45am - 10:00am
    Unseen New World

    Bats are the only mammals with wings that can fly.  Bats are very important to the ecosystems in which they live as they help to pollinate many of the plants that are found in each habitat.  The short-tailed leaf nose bats will enter into a state similar to hibernation called torpor when food is lacking.  They will roost in two distinct groups; harems with one adult male and several adult females, and bachelor groups of sub-adult males.  Mating can occur twice a year and females will give birth to one baby.  Short-tailed lead nose bats also love to eat mosquitoes!  You can thank them for that when you see them in the Unseen New World.   

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  • Flamingo Keeper Talk

    Feb 12th, 2016
    11:00am - 11:15am
    Flamingo Lagoon
    Caribbean flamingos are one of 6 species of flamingos which can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. During breeding season they gather in colonies of 5,000 - 100,000 birds. After attracting a partner through an elaborate mating dance a pair of flamingos will begin to build a mud mound on which the female will lay her egg. Both males and females will help incubate the egg and they share responsibilities in caring for the chick.  Flamingos are born gray and do not get their pink feathers until 1-3 years of age. Their diet contains carotenoid pigments which will give them their characteristic pink color. Flamingos are filter feeders and hold their head upside down in shallow water to strain out their food. Flamingos very rarely lay down and even sleep standing up, often only on one leg. You can see our flamingos in Flamingo Lagoon.
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  • Red Ruffed Lemur Keeper Talk

    Feb 12th, 2016
    11:30am - 11:45am
    Red-ruffed lemurs are 1 of more than 100 species of lemurs on the island of Madagascar. Lemurs are not monkeys but a type of primate called a prosimian. Red-ruffed lemurs will spend most of their day in the canopies of forests and they play an important role in pollination in their habitat. Red-ruffed lemurs are very vocal, with the ability to make more than 12 separate calls. These are used to warn others of predators, keep the group together while foraging, or to warn others that a space is already occupied. Listen for our red-ruffed lemurs Lyra and Larry on the Bamboo Trail.
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  • Barn Owl Keeper Talk

    Feb 12th, 2016
    1:30pm - 1:45pm
    Grassmere Historic Home and Farm

    Barns owls are the most widespread of any owl species and can be found in any habitat that meets their needs. As with other owls they swallow their prey whole and then cough up pellets which contain all the non-digestible parts of their prey such as bones and fur.

    Barn owls have great eyesight but they are renowned for their ability to hear extremely soft noises. A barn owl hunting in complete darkness can still locate and capture prey using sound alone. Barn owls have been known to nest in hollow trees and artificial nest boxes but earn their name by often taking up residence in old buildings such as abandoned barns and silos. You can see our barn owls at the Croft House barn.

     

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  • Yellow-backed Duiker Keeper Talk

    Feb 12th, 2016
    2:00pm - 2:15pm
    Bamboo Trail
    Yellow-backed duikers are the largest of all 15 species of duiker.  Adult duikers have black coats with a white face.  The yellow hair begins to appear on their back at 5-9 months and will stand up when the duiker feels threatened or becomes agitated. Little is known about the behavior of yellow-backed duikers due to their shy nature and the thick forests they call home.  Duikers will be solitary or live in a monogamous pair.  They can breed anytime during the year and typically have offspring twice a year.  Young duikers are hidden by their mothers in underbrush for the first several weeks of their life for protection from predators.   Due to their size duikers have to forage for much the day.  While foraging, duikers need to lookout for painted dogs, lions, and leopards.  One of their main defenses is to dive into the underbrush to evade predators.   Yellow-backed duikers have large scent glands underneath their eyes and in between their toes which they rub on trees to mark their territory.  Duikers will also use these glands to rub on their mates during courtship, familiarize young with their parents scent, and males will rub them on other males during competition.   You can see our yellow backed duikers on Bamboo Trail.        
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  • Teddy Bear Clinic

    Feb 13th, 2016
    10:00am - 3:00pm

    Children are invited to bring their favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal friend to Nashville Zoo’s first annual Teddy Bear Clinic on Saturday, Feb. 13 in the Zoo’s Croft Center Gallery. The Nashville Zoo Veterinary Department will be on call from 10:00am to 12:00pm and again from 1:00pm to 3:00pm to perform routine checkups on your child’s stuffed animal. Learn about the excellent care Nashville Zoo’s animals receive from the zookeepers and veterinarian staff. The clinic is FREE with zoo admission. No registration is necessary.

    Other activities and stations include Beary Fun Facts, Bear Bones X-ray station, Bear Care Clinic where kids can dress up like a veterinarian, and I Made It With My Bear Hands coloring station. Children will receive a certificate of “Beary Good Health.”

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  • Snowy Owl Keeper Talk

    Feb 13th, 2016
    11:30am - 11:45am
    Critter Encounters

    These large ghost-like owls have white feathers to match their snowy arctic habitat. The males have mostly white feathers while females can also have brown or black markings. Snowy owls will usually breed in the arctic area of North America and Europe and migrate to warmer climates in the winter. Snowy owls like to spend the summer hunting in the nearly endless daylight of the arctic.

    Snowy owls build their nests on the ground and will return to the same site year after year. They fiercely protect this nest from other owls and even wolves! Females will lay up to 11 eggs which hatch about 32 days later. Snowy owls live to about 10 years of age.

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  • Ring Tailed Lemur Keeper Talk

    Feb 13th, 2016
    11:30am - 11:45am
    Bamboo Trail
    Ring-tailed lemurs live in southern areas of Madagascar in social groups of up to 25 members. These are mixed groups with males and females. Female ring-tailed lemurs are always dominant over males and there is one dominant female in each group. When the group travels together they will raise their long ringed tails to act as flags to locate other members of the group.  They will mark their territory by rubbing their scent glands on trees.  Breeding usually takes place between April-June with babies being born August-September.  Females will usually have 1-2 offspring. You can see our ring-tailed lemurs along the Bamboo Trail.
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  • Farm Keeper Talk

    Feb 13th, 2016
    1:30pm - 1:45pm

    Many different animals have lived at Grassmere since the house was built in 1810. Many of the animals that you will see at the Grassmere Historic Farm are “heritage breeds,” traditional livestock breeds raised by farmers of the past but whose numbers have since fallen.

    Cattle grazed over much of the land that is now Nashville Zoo and at the Grassmere Historic Farm you can see Belted Galloway cattle which originally came from Scotland. They are known for high quality meat and milk while consuming less feed. 

    Sheep were raised at Grassmere during the 1860’s and 1920s-1930s. On the farm you can currently see Cotswold Sheep which originated in England. These sheep produce “long wool” which is popular with wool spinners. 

    You can also see American Milking Devon cattle which are used for meat, milk, or farm work; barn owls; and a Clydesdale whose feet are the size of your dinner plate! 

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  • Tapir Keeper Talk

    Feb 13th, 2016
    2:00pm - 2:15pm
    Baird’s tapirs are one of five species of tapirs. Four species live in Central and South America and one species lives in Asia. The upper lip of the tapir forms a proboscis similar to an elephant’s trunk.  This is used to help them collect their food as they browse. Tapirs are born brown with white stripes and spots to help with camouflage and turn solid brown with age. 
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  • Cougar Keeper Talk

    Feb 13th, 2016
    2:30pm - 2:45pm
    Bamboo Trail
    Cougars, also known as pumas or mountain lions, are solitary animals mostly active at night. At one point, cougars had the largest range of any mammal in North and South America. With the increase in human population that range has shrunk to mostly mountainous regions of the western United States. Males will have a home range of about 150 square miles which will include several females. Cougars will not mate until they have their own territory and then breeding can take place year round. Females will have 1-6 cubs and breed every 2 years as cubs can remain with their mother for more than a year. Cougars can catch large prey which they can drag over 900 feet from the place of capture to feed. They often bury their kills to feed at a later time. You can see our two cougars along Jungle Trail.
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