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  • Writer's pictureBrandi & Candace

Nashville Zoo

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

The Nashville Zoo is a 188 acre zoo and historical plantation home. The plantation was built in 1810, and stayed in the Dunn family for five generations before being donated to the Children’s Museum of Nashville in 1964, with the clause that the house be kept on the property and there be a nature conservation space. This property existed as the Grassmere Wildlife Park from 1985 to 1994. Meanwhile, the privately owned Nashville Zoo opened in Joelton in 1991. In 1996, the city of Nashville bought the land from the defunct Grassmere Wildlife Park. The city decided to lease the land to the Nashville Zoo in a 40 year lease, and the property opened as we know it now in 1997. The land is owned by the city, but the Zoo organization is private, and non profit, and maintains the land.

A couple of things to note: the Nashville Zoo is the 9th largest zoo in the country, BUT only 90 of the 188 acres are developed. And in those 90 acres, you’ll find yourself walking amongst large gaps of exposed land, wondering: “This could be utilized so much better.” As a zoo, this would be graded a solid B-. New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, and even Memphis are great comparable zoos that I’ve been to, that could be argued as better than the Nashville Zoo in different capacities.

However, all of that kind of melts away as you are walking around the zoo. The greenery and fauna is beautiful and well maintained. The landscapes of the different caged areas are beautiful. This whole area is so great. The layout is very comfortable, as well. We spent about two hours here, at $17 per person, in scheduled time slots due to COVID.

I have found myself struggling with zoos in general over the past few years. The caging of animals for humans to gawk at seems inhumane, and I know that zoos have a sordid history in general of being a hotbed for abusive practices. However, the Nashville Zoo is extremely involved with multiple conservation efforts, and I feel comfortable supporting them. And I hope you support the zoo. They are financially hurting due to COVID, so a donation, a membership, buying tickets, or shopping at their online gift shop would go a long way.

Name: Nashville Zoo

Address: 3777 Nolensville Pike, 37211

History: 5 out of 5

Walkability: 5 out of 5

Kid Like-ability- 5 out of 5

Date Night-ability- 4 out of 5

Charm: 5 out of 5

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