The Kid Allergy Travel family has always been a big proponent of teaching our children to respect the animal world and has sought out organizations that instill these values. Before putting an animal encounter on our travel itinerary, we make a point to check the current standing with regulatory agencies (where possible) like the AZA Accredited Zoos and Aquariums to ensure that the places we are visiting are following ethical and fair treatment practices.
One of our favorite AZA Accredited zoos in the United States just happens to be the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. We had visited this incredible establishment before and had fallen in love with the Nashville Zoo's modern approach to animal encounters, the clean eating offerings at the on-site dining establishment called Zoofari Cafe, and the additional family attractions on offer at this location.
So, when we knew Nashville, Tennessee, would be on our itinerary again this summer, we partnered up (via sponsorship) with the Nashville Zoo to cover their latest exhibit featuring some pretty incredible four-year-old female Sumatran tigers.
Nashville Zoo Basics
Considered middle Tennessee's #1 tourist attraction, the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is located a few minutes from downtown on Nolensville Pike. Offering 200 acres of wild fun, the Nashville Zoo offers more than just contemporary animal encounters. Make sure you add time during your visit for themed rides, guided tours, backstage experiences, and even a historic home and garden tour. Tickets do allow in an out privileges, but we think that even if you are traveling with an allergy, you will want to check out the clean eating menu at the on-site fast casual restaurant called Zoofari Cafe. For more about planning and our general take on what you should expect during your visit here, check out our run down of 5 reasons why every family should visit the Nashville Zoo.
Nashville Zoo Highlights
We came specifically to see the new tiger exhibit this visit, but my five-year-old wanted to check out a few other beloved attractions first.
What did we have to make time for while visiting for a second time?
Old Nashville Zoo Favorites
And of course, the cheeky hand washing and drying station.
The Souvenir Shop
As we were here to see the tigers, my littlest one couldn't help but check out the tiger themed bubble blowers. He also snagged a pair of foldable/packable sunglasses in the shape of an animal that worked great to shield the sun.
Animal Themed Train & Carousel Rides
Roaming around the vast 200 acre plot of land in the Nashville heat means you will definitely be looking for a heavily air conditioned spot and a bit of R&R to rest your legs. Read our in depth review of gluten free dining and other clean eating options in our previous Zoofari Cafe write-up.
We couldn't visit without saying hi to some of our old friends:
And of course, the Andean Bear Exhibit that we had the opportunity to enjoy from our last visit.
New Spots at the Nashville Zoo
This time around, we discovered a lovely veterinary center where you can see the zoo staff caring for the animals via the floor to ceiling windows dotting all sides of the complex.
The African Savanah
Not sure if these interactive tents were set up last year, but these little centers fascinated my little one this year with plenty of hands on exploration.
The New Exhibit: Tiger Crossroads
Finally, we made it to our Tiger Crossroads destination and the signs lining the walkway ramped up our excitement for what was coming up ahead.
The exhibit begins by giving visitors information about Tigers in general.
The World's Tigers
The world's tiger population has seen an awful decline over the years. The WWF states that tigers as a whole have decreased 95% in the last 100 years. Of the nine tiger subspecies, three are already extinct. This mighty beast that once roamed throughout Asia now only resides in six countries.
My five-year-old and I visited this exhibit one week before we left to embark on our Southeast Asian travels. So, as we read the message about how these beautiful creatures had seen so much devastation in habitat and population over the years, it resonated very powerfully with us both.
The Plight of the Sumatran Tiger
The Nashville Zoo is showcasing the smallest surviving tiger subspecies which is the Sumatran Tiger. Why is this particular tiger important? They are listed as critically endangered per the IUCN Red List. Sadly, in the last 35 years this tiger population has see a 60% decreased in numbers. The Sumatran Tiger sits only at roughly 400 left in the wild.
Helping Tigers Prosper at Home
The Nashville Zoo has always done a great job at taking a modern approach to animal exhibition. And, with this Tiger Crossroads exhibit they have executed it beautifully once again. They embarked on a major renovation project to enlarge day and night quarters for the Sumatran Tigers, build a wall to ceiling glass observation area that puts you right up next to the animals, and an interactive training window for visitors to view trainers working with the animals. The whole landscape was created with hand painted wood and carved stone accents throughout to mimic the feeling of the Asian lands where these tiger populations call home.
Extending Help to Tigers Everywhere
This is something we have addressed before about this particular establishment. The Nashville Zoo has always had a strong commitment to conservation and goes above and beyond just caring for animals within their walls.
In an effort to make an impact on the tiger population as a whole, the Nashville Zoo has made a long term commitment to working with the Wildlife Conservation Society through an effort called The Tiger Conservation Campaign (TCC). The TCC works to protect and grow tiger populations in their native habitats.
The Nashville Zoo also work with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Sumatran Tiger Species Survival Plan® to ensure genetic biodiversity in captive populations like those sheltered in zoos.
Nashville Zoo leaves you with one lasting impression at Tiger Crossroads:
There is hope and direction for a better tomorrow.
The Nashville Zoo stresses that we can save this majestic creature from extinction with the will to make change.
A chart details the purpose of an initiative started in 2010 called TX2. The goal is to work from one Year of the Tiger to the next (2010-2022) to double the numbers of wild tigers on the earth. Spearheaded by WWF, this is the largest global recovery effort to date to ever attempt to save a species.
My little one and I were happy to see that the Save the Tiger initiative included three of the countries we were planning on visiting during our upcoming holiday to Southeast Asia (Laos, Vietnam & Thailand). In some small way, it was comforting to know that these countries had joined the worldwide effort to do good.
As we walked away, my son started chattering:
Maybe when we visited Southeast Asia tigers would be peering at us through the densely covered forests? Or, perhaps when we turned our backs the tigers would be sipping from the rivers? It had, after all, been 9 years since the initiative started.
I paused to grab his hand.
I considered what an impact this one visit could make on the young folks out there. My five-year-old had left the tiger exhibit with hope. And....I couldn't help but leave with a smile.
Kid Allergy Travel received sponsored admission to the Nashville Zoo. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.
Wanna learn more about why we love the Nashville Zoo so much? Head to our Nashville Zoo at Grassmere page to learn why we feel this location earns a spot as a must do family destination when visiting Music City.
Wanna do more than visit? Donate to the conservation efforts of the Nashville Zoo.