Knoxville, Tenn.— Just in time for summer vacation, Knoxville Zoo has created an all-new outdoor play area that encourages kids to have fun the way it used to be done…unplugged!  

Nature Play is a creative play area that encourages little visitors to have some fun outdoors with imagination-inspiring elements.  Tipis made of vines, green tunnels, chalk walls for impromptu outside art, stump hopping, rope-swinging, a place to see how vegetables grow and a fairy garden are ready for an active playtime filled with discovery.  Nature Play will also be a place to meet some of the zoo’s ambassador animals for a personal introduction and be hands-on with animal “bio-facts” such as tusks, teeth, horns and bones.

Knoxville Zoo is also bringing a touch of nostalgia back to the zoo with the thoroughly modern “Zoo Choo Train”, offering rides through our Nature Play garden for little guests.  Rides on the Zoo Choo Train will be available daily beginning Saturday, May 24th, departing from the new Nature Play depot.  Tickets to ride the Zoo Choo Train are $3 each, or are available as part of the zoo’s “The Experience” wristband, which are available for $15 each and offers unlimited rides on the Zoo Choo Train, the Fuzzy-Go-Round carousel and camels as well as unlimited seed sticks to feed the budgies in Budgie Landing and unlimited free drink refills with the purchase of a zoo beverage.  

Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville’s largest year-round attraction.  Located off exit 392A from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331 or visit