Named the #1 Zoo in the US by Tripadvisor.com in 2008, the Memphis Zoo has been a staple of Overton Park for more than 100 years. The Memphis Zoo was opened in April 1906 and is set on 76 acres.
The Memphis Zoo is home to more than 3500 animals representing over 500 species. The animals reside in three zones with 19 exhibits, such as Once Upon a Farm, Dragon’s Lair and China, which is home to giant pandas Ya Ya and Le Le.
The Memphis Zoo sponsors a wide variety of special events throughout the year. These include: Horticultural Tours (periodic), Plant Sale (April), Zoo Boo with its Haunted Forest (October), Zoo Lights with over 1 million holiday lights, Santa, live reindeer, and magic show (November/December), Zoo Rendezvous (September), Zoo Snooze (periodic), and many more. There are also a wide assortment of educational activities throughout the year for school-aged children.
The Memphis Zoo has two major projects in their future plans with funding efforts currently underway:
- Zambezi River Hippo Camp—This exhibit will feature animals common to the Zambezi River basin in eastern Africa—hippos, flamingos, Okapi, and Nile crocodiles. The hippo area will have a below-water viewing deck similar to that in the Northwest Passage Exhibit. This new exhibit will be built where the World of Waterfowl and Meadow Amphitheater are currently located.
- Chickasaw Bluffs—This low-impact nature trail will wind through 15 acres (6 ha) of the Old Forest Arboretum of Overton Park that are located within the Zoo’s boundaries. Signs located along the trail will allow Zoo visitors to learn about native plants and animals and to gain an appreciation for the forest. Proposed educational messages include the important role that forests play in wildlife habitat, climate, and the cycling of water, oxygen, and carbon.