Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

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Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
Sign at zoo entrance
Date opened 1990 (as Grassmere Wildlife Park)[1]
Location Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Coordinates 36°05′19″N 86°44′32″W / 36.0885°N 86.7422°W / 36.0885; -86.7422Coordinates: 36°05′19″N 86°44′32″W / 36.0885°N 86.7422°W / 36.0885; -86.7422
Land area 200 acres (81 ha)[1]
No. of species

1996 (at current location)
Memberships AZA[2]

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a 200-acre (81 ha) zoo and historic plantation farmhouse located 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).


The Historic Grassmere Home

Nashville Zoo’s history at Grassmere began in the late 1980s. Sisters Margaret and Elise Croft were the last two owners of the Croft House and family farm at Grassmere, located six miles south from downtown Nashville. They donated the 300-acre farm to the Children’s Museum of Nashville, which is now the Adventure Science Center. After Elise Croft’s death in 1985, the museum began development of a wildlife park, which opened there in 1990. Meanwhile, the separate Nashville Zoo opened in Joelton in 1991. By 1995, the museum decided to close the Grassmere Wildlife Park. Ownership of the land went to the city, which was still bound by the Croft sisters’ will to maintain the area as a nature center. In 1996, then-Mayor Phil Bredesen offered the Nashville Zoo the chance to relocate from Joelton to the Grassmere property. On May 1, 1997, the Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere opened to the public. In October 1998, the zoo closed its Cheatham County location to focus all of its efforts on the current Grassmere property. In 2001, the Nashville Wildlife Park at Grassmere officially became the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. The resulting facility has been engineered to grow so as to take maximum advantage of its 200 acres (81 ha).[3][4]

Grassmere Historic Home[edit]

On the grounds of the zoo facilities, the property still maintains the original historic plantation house, called Grassmere or the Historic Croft Home.

Visitors to the zoo can tour this 19th-century historic house museum, its gardens and the associated Grassmere Historic Farm.


Zoo Central[edit]

Jungle Gym[edit]

Nashville Zoo's Jungle Gym is the wildest place for a high-flying, high-swinging adventure! Swing like a gibbon, run like the zebras and prowl around tiger-style in the 66,000-square foot playground. Jungle Gym features a 35-foot tall tree house structure, super slides, swings, and giant snake tunnel. The Jungle Gym is the largest community-built playground in the United States.

Gibbon Islands[edit]

As you enter the Zoo, two islands covered with various trees and bushes are home to siamangs and white-cheeked gibbons. Throughout the day you may hear their distinctive calls greeting visitors as they enter the Zoo, all while climbing and swinging through the treetops.


The meerkat exhibit, opened in 2002, features a mob of extremely social meerkats. Visitors can view them through a plexiglass wall or through a cylindrical window within the exhibit to get a meerkat’s-eye view of the colony as they dig through an expansive network of underground tunnels.[5]

Other facilities[edit]

The Jungle Gym is the largest community-built playground of its kind in the country, created in 1998. Thousands of volunteers worked together to build a vast array of slides, cargo netting, swings and climbing structures for children.


The zoo is active in numerous research and conservation activities including participating in a number of the programs in the Species Survival Plan which is managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


  1. ^ a b "About the Zoo". Nashville Zoo. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Carey, Bill (1 November 2001). "Nashville's Ark: The city is finally committed to a world-class animal park". City Press LLC. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 
  4. ^
  5. ^

External links[edit]