April 8 is National Zoo Lovers Day, and Knoxville happens to have a fantastic zoo that we love. We thought we’d tell you more about it so you can plan a visit!
It’s important to know that Zoo Knoxville prides itself on being “fun on the outside, serious about animals on the inside. Zoo Knoxville is committed to being part of the solution to save species from extinction, both locally and globally.” The zoo has been integral to breeding red pandas (in fact more have been bred here than anywhere, giving Knoxville the moniker of “Red panda capital of the world”!), researching native hellbender and mudpuppy salamanders, and working to save East Tennessee’s endangered bog turtle. They have quite the reputation when it comes to conservation efforts, and are now creating the Amphibian and reptile Conservation Campus – the largest project in Zoo Knoxville’s history!
In addition to these crawling (or slithering) critters, the zoo is full of amazing animals. Upon arrival, you have a tough choice to make: Left? Or right? Either option is rewarding; for African animals, turn right and you’ll see Grasslands Africa - elephants, lions, bat-eared foxes and more. For an add-on, now’s your chance to experience the Giraffe Encounter and feed a giraffe from a platform! For more experiences, check out this page here. Keep going and you’ll pass African painted dogs, duikers (a small brown antelope native to sub-Saharan Africa), and then you’ll come to the gorillas and chimpanzees.
If it’s a hot day, we bet the Splash Play Zone will be calling your name! Once you dry off, grab some lunch and work your way back towards the entrance. You’ll see peccaries, porcupines, and prairie dogs and more food options. Don’t miss the Forest Theater Bird Show – Einstein the African Gray parrot is quite the genius and she knows how to have a good time. For the littles, spend some time at the Wee Play area – Al the Tortoise (who is 150 years old!) lives here and he even has his own Twitter account!
The east side of the zoo begins with a wonderland called Asian Trek. You’ll come upon cranes, the aforementioned red pandas, and Malayan tigers. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the area known as Langur Landing and Gibbon Trails. Georgie the Gibbon is a real ham, and the whole family will enjoy watching him swing with ease in a 360° habitat. Beyond Asian Trek you’ll find the petting zoo and carousel, along with birds, reptiles, and the cutest river otters.
We hope this inspired you to plan a visit to our beloved Zoo Knoxville! For tickets, parking info, and FAQs, head here.