New at the zoo and upcoming family fun for your calendar. BY RYAN TILLMAN for "Summer in the City"
Lions and tigers and bears … well, not quite. However, as you navigate the Nashville Zoo, your every step will be held in anticipation much like Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road.
One of the most striking aspects of a Nashville Zoo experience is the interaction with the animals. At Lorikeet Landing, colorful birds willingly make available human arms their perch while slurping nectar from your hand.
Kangaroo Kickabout is a favorite spot where you’re in the open with the creatures. Stay on the sidewalk, though. Several kangaroos will happily hop your way near the walking path to let you pet them.
Little kids have fun petting and brushing friendly goats at the Critter Encounters area, and over at Shell Station, they can hand feed lettuce to eager tortoises. Children can also get face to face with meerkats just like Timon from The Lion King.
New at the Zoo
The park’s newest attraction is Spider Monkey: Treetop Passage. To access it, try tip-toeing across a rope bridge through the forest greens. There’s a paved path, too. The spider monkeys can swing like Tarzan along the tree line just out of the bridge’s reach. You get an intimate look at these playful and energetic South American creatures. Emma, a young girl I spoke with, says this is without a doubt her favorite exhibit of the day.
Be sure to check out the new white rhinos as well as the youngest addition to Nashville Zoo. Mazi the giraffe (born in February) is now on display. He’s the fifth Masai giraffe born at Nashville Zoo. It’s great fun to see him and mother Margarita along with the other gentle giants in their habitat.
Upcoming zoo additions include Andean bear and Sumatran tiger exhibits. Andean bears are native to South America. They utilize their natural creativity to construct wooden platforms in order to reach small rodents and berries hidden inside tree bark. The Sumatran tiger is akin to something you’d see out of The Jungle Book, sporting a classic burnt orange coat with black stripes. Both of these exhibits are set to open later this year.
Nashville Zoo hosts several fun family events throughout the year, and there are a few coming up to get on your things-to-do calendar.
On Saturday, July 1 your family can experience Summer Splash H2Oliday, formerly known as Ice Day. Kids can run around inflatable water slides and enjoy a snow flurry tent while cooling off with treats as well. Watch several of the zoo critters enjoy special frozen treats made just for them.
Also on July 1 is the next installment of Zzzoofari Slumber. This overnight camping experience lets you pitch a tent on the festival field and enjoy a night of games, campfire activities and more.
There are two more Zoovie Nights this summer, too. These fun, after-hours happenings feature games and activities prior to watching a family-friendly flick on the festival field screen. See Shrek on Friday, Aug. 18 and Zootopia on Friday, Sept. 1.
Also of note is the total solar eclipse happening on Monday, Aug. 21. It’s the first time in 150 years that this phenomenon will be visible in Nashville’s path. There are a lot of watch parties happening around town, but the zoo invites families out from 12 – 2 p.m. During this time, you can help observe and document animal behavior during the eclipse through photos, videos and written form.
IF YOU GO:
3777 Nolensville Pike
Nashville, TN 37211
615-833-1534 | nashvillezoo.org
Summer hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily
Admission: $16 adults, $11 ages 2 – 12, free ages 2 & younger