Register Now for Zzzoofari Slumber

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Kids will be excited to share with their friends their experience of camping inside the zoo during their visit for Zzzoofari Slumber & all the fun they had.

My family had the extraordinary chance of spending the night at the Nashville Zoo. Yep, we slept inside the zoo in the field/events area near the playground. When we first told our kids we were going camping, they were of course super excited because they love camping as much as we do. BUT, when we told them we were camping at the zoo, they didn’t believe us! It was a total shock to them that you could even do such a thing. Questions of curiosity flowed from them.

Zoo_tents Zoo_hotdog roast Zoo_craft Zoo_animal show

Will the animals be making loud noises at night? Do the animals get out of their cage at night? Can we visit the animals at night? … and more. The next Zzzoofari Slumber takes place Sept. 5 at 4 p.m. to Sept. 6 at 9 a.m.

Well, here’s some information for those curious enough to check it out:

  • Recommended for ages 4 – 12, but younger ones are allowed.
  • Yes, you get to bring your own tent, camping chairs, a cooler of snacks and such as you would if you were going camping.
  • The zoo provides the bonfires, so don’t worry about that part.
  • Bring some outdoor games to play as the field is still pretty open. Don’t be shy, encourage your kids to play with other kids.
  • There will be live music to enjoy as well.
  • Don’t forget about the craft that’s available, too. Our kids really enjoyed coloring the free tote bag they were given.
  • If you plan on bringing a blow up mattress to sleep on, they did allow visitors to use the outlet from the backside of the cafe.
  • The zoo also provides a hotdog, soda and marshmallows to roast as well as sticks to use.
  • The zoo closes all animal exhibits at regular zoo hours, so you’ll need to stay in the event area after that.
  • In the morning, they serve everyone a pretty good breakfast inside the cafe.
  • You’ll need to get up early and pack up as your items need to be back in your car by the time the zoo opens for the next day.
  • On arrival day, you can check in early and leave your stuff with zoo staff in the parking lot and then enjoy the zoo as part of your event ticket. When it’s time, they will haul everyone’s stuff in and distribute in center field.
  • The next morning, after you’ve put all your stuff back in the car, you can come back in and enjoy the zoo again.
  • They also provide activities to enjoy during the Zzzofari Slumber experience. My kids loved the hayride and seeing the staff areas behind the zoo.
  • There are jump houses to bounce around on, but the line can get long.
  • You get to ride the carousel for free during the event only.
  • The animal show was packed and the kids loved seeing the presentations.
  • During the hayride, a zoo staff member told us of some interesting facts, like the thousands of meals they make each day for the animals and other fun facts.
  • The following morning, the best thing to do is wake up early, pack up and then grab breakfast.

The only thing my kids found disappointing was that after a long and eventful day at the zoo, they were ready for bed. Quiet time is set for 10 p.m., but there were a few people that felt the need to continue singing songs and playing their musical instruments that they brought with them. Those are encouraged, but for use before quiet time. My kids really wanted to go to sleep and kept asking when those people were going to go to sleep because when my kids are ready for bed, they are READY for bed. LOL. So, the only real bummer was that their rule of quiet time was not really enforced. So, be prepared for that, especially if you have kids that have trouble getting to sleep.

The next morning, after you’ve had breakfast, which was quite delicious considering and included donuts, scrambled eggs, sausage links, toast, cereal, orange juice, milk and, I think I saw coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I was not in search of it. If you’re done with packing and eating before 9 a.m., hang around the event area as the zoo is still closed. There was a slight confusion in this as some staff members said we were allowed to start walking around at 9 a.m., but when we did, others were unaware of that and were telling us to go back. The routes are barricaded, but they were moved at that time so we assumed that what we were told was true. Just be sure to ask before you start going around the zoo.

So, really, with the price of Zzzoofari Slumber tickets, you get pretty much two days of enjoying the zoo, camping at the zoo, a hotdog, marshmallows, a soda, a craft, breakfast the next morning and free parking — and it’s an experience of a lifetime! Not many people can say they’ve actually spent the night at the zoo.

The cost is $50 per person ages 4 and older that are non-members of the zoo ($10 non-members ages 2 – 3). Nashville Zoo At Grassmere is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike, Nashville. For more information, call 615-833-1534 or visit

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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