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15 February 2022

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Memphis Zoo History

The Memphis Zoo began in April 1906 with just 64 animals. The zoo moved to its current location in Overton Park in midtown Memphis, Tennessee, in mid-1911. The zoo consisted of only one building and a few cages, but it has grown over the years to include many more buildings and cages. Today the Memphis Zoo is ranked as one of the top four zoos in the United States by TripAdvisor and among the top 10 zoos in the country by Parents magazine.

The Memphis Zoo is home to more than 4,500 animals representing over 500 different species. The zoo has been active in participating in species survival plans for many endangered species including giant pandas, orangutans, Sumatran rhinos and cheetahs. In addition to providing care for animals at the zoo, the Memphis Zoo also participates in conservation efforts around the world including helping to restore native habitats for various species.

The Memphis Zoo opened its doors to the public in April 1906 as the Memphis Zoological Gardens and Aquarium. The zoo was founded by a group of concerned citizens who believed that the absence of a zoo in the city was an obstacle in developing a good relationship between humankind and nature.

The first animals at the Memphis Zoo were donated by local citizens, including foxes, coyotes, raccoons, eagles, hawks, owls, opossums, and bobcats. In 1914, the zoo received its first two lions.

In the early days of the Memphis Zoo's existence, there were no permanent buildings for animal habitats. Many of them were kept in cages or pits dug into the ground. During this time period many changes took place that would impact the Memphis Zoo for years to come. The zoo acquired land from Overton Park; it also saw its first elephant arrive from India by way of New York City in 1924 and its first hippo arrive from Belgium in 1955.

Memphis Zoo is an AZA accredited zoo located in Midtown, Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in April 1906, the zoo has been a major tenant of Overton Park for more than 100 years. The land currently designated to the Memphis Zoo was defined by the Overton Park master plan in 1988. The zoo is set on 76 acres (31 ha) with over 3500 animals.

The Memphis Zoo was founded on April 4, 1906 with $1,200 from the Memphis Park Commission and a menagerie of 45 animals. Since then, the Memphis Zoo has grown to become one of the city's premier attractions. The Memphis Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species.

The zoo considers its biggest strength to be its diversity of species and habitats among North American and African exhibits. Its newest exhibit is Zambezi River Hippo Camp which opened in 2005 and connects two other popular exhibits: Cat Country and Primate Canyon. Other popular animal exhibits include Northwest Passage, Teton Trek, China, Once Upon A Farm petting zoo, Herpetarium and Animals of the Night nocturnal house. The zoo also has an aquarium and a bird sanctuary.

Memphis Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is accredited by the AZA. The AZA is America's leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for animal care and exhibits.

Memphis Zoo does not accept any liability for property lost, stolen, or damaged while visiting the Zoo, nor for any personal injury sustained by any visitor during his or her visit at the Zoo. The management reserves the right to refuse admission to anyone who does not adhere to these rules or whose conduct is deemed to be improper. Photography by professional photographers is prohibited unless permission has been obtained from the Memphis Zoo administration office.

When visiting the Memphis Zoo, it is important to follow the rules and regulations set by the zoo. These are in place to ensure the safety of you, your family and the animals at all times. The following list of guidelines will help you have a safe, enjoyable visit to the zoo:

All animals must be kept on a leash or in an appropriate carrier at all times.

No bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades are allowed inside the zoo.

Do not feed any of the animals unless given specific instructions by zoo personnel.

Keep your hands and feet inside of exhibits at all times. Do not climb on rocks or other structures inside of exhibits.

Do not litter in exhibits or around the grounds. Respect our environment and keep trash in its proper place.

Do not leave small children unattended.

Stay on designated paths and sidewalks; do not walk through gardens, lawns or exhibits.

Contact Information: 

Memphis Zoo

2000 Prentiss Place

Memphis, TN 38112

Phone: (901) 333-6500

Fax: (901) 333-6742

Email: zooinfo@memphiszoo.org / info@memphiszoo.org