Have a G’Day at Nashville Zoo
It was one of those perfect Fridays where the sun’s heat was pleasant and a slight breeze rustled the hair off the back of your neck. It was the kind of Friday that called for a visit to the Nashville Zoo.
Jim Bartoo is not only the director of communications for the Nashville Zoo but also offered his service as my guide that Friday afternoon. He knows the zoo inside and out, and a wealth of animal trivia. As he showed me around the exhibits, he interacted with the visitors, answering questions and giving information that left visitors wide-eyed and grinning as they stared at the zoo’s inhabitants.
The zoo has grown from a small operation in Cheatham County to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited facility. The Nashville Zoo is Middle Tennessee’s No. 1 attraction, with 400 animal species, an annual attendance of over 780,000 visitors and new, dynamic exhibits, and its contribution to conservation programs is well noted, with the birth of three adorable clouded leopard cubs, a Baird’s Tapir and a Bongo calf all within 2013.
The Kangaroo Kickabout, the newest exhibition, gives visitors an up-close-and-personal look at Australia’s famous marsupial: the red kangaroo. The exhibit is now open and has 4,500 square feet of naturalistic Australian landscape. Guests can view the ‘roos from the outside or step into the exhibit and walk along the path through the middle of the habitat. Kangaroos are free to wander the exhibit and some are friendly enough to come up to guests for a small pat. Zoo keepers are on hand to answer questions and make sure everyone is safe. The kangaroos are most likely to be more active in the morning, as they squeeze in a nap in the afternoon. To have the best chance of getting to pet a kangaroo, guests should visit the zoo beginning at 9 a.m.
Male kangaroos grow up to 5.5 ft. with an almost four-foot-long tail. Females are about 3 ft. tall with a tail length up to 33 inches.
After you’ve visited with the marsupials, there are many other animals to see. Be sure to take a stroll along the Jungle Loop and visit the Unseen New World, where lizards, deadly spiders, serpents and beautiful fish can be seen.
As the cooler months begin to come full force, the zoo hosts a plethora of events like Ghouls at Grassmere Oct. 24-27, a family favorite for some Halloween fun that includes a Monster Lab, Monster Mash, Carn-Evil and a costume parade; and Zoo Run Run 2014 happening Jan. 25, 2014 which celebrates the return of DinoTrek, an adventure like no other that features lifelike dinosaurs opening Spring 2014.
Have you visited Kangaroo Kickabout yet? Share your experiences in the comment box below!
*Some photos courtesy of Nashville Zoo’s Amiee Stubbs