Andean Bear Exhibit NOW OPEN at the Zoo

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The brand-new exhibit more than two years in the making opens Thursday, March 15 at 1 p.m.

Did you know that Paddington Bear — the beloved literary and film character — is based on the real-life Andean bear? Tell your kids that little tidbit when you take them to see Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear exhibit opening Thursday, March 15 at the Nashville Zoo. The official ribbon cutting takes place at 1 p.m.

ABOUT THE EXHIBIT

The $9.3 million presentation features three bears: one female (5-year-old Luka pictured above) and two males (3-year-olds Holt and Muniri). The zoo took two careful years to develop the state-of-the-art exhibit, transforming an unused hillside adjacent to the Bamboo Trail.

Step inside the large and beautiful Peruvian Lodge for an unobstructed view of the bears’ expansive habitat. Andeans are smaller than black bears and more active than grizzlies, says Nashville Zoo’s Marketing and Public Relations Director Jim Bartoo.

Kids and parents can expect to see active bears, particularly in the close-up underwater viewing area. You’ll occasionally get to witness zoo keepers target training the bears. This form of positive reinforcement conditioning makes it easier for zoo staff to address health and wellness concerns without having to restrain or sedate the animals.

As an immersive experience, and in addition to the bears, you’ll see freshwater stingrays and other aquatic critters representative of the Peruvian Amazon Basin in a 16-foot aquarium located inside the lodge. Just outside, discover southern pudu (the world’s smallest deer) and have fun watching 20 guinea pigs while learning their importance to Peruvian culture.

Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Road, Nashville. Hours are 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. Weekday admission is $17 adults, $12 ages 2 – 12; tickets are $1 more on weekends. Call 615-833-1534 or visit nashvillezoo.org.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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