The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JULY  2011

The People News
Special Report






Knoxville Zoo

by Alexandra Edwards

Summer is here, the kids have been out of school a few weeks, so just about now they are probably beginning to whine those ever so familiar  two words... "I'm bored."

Every parent understands how difficult it is to keep children entertained throughout school's long summer vacation weeks.

For generations, going to the zoo has been one of the most popular summer family traditions.

Not only can a trip to the zoo be a fun day for kids as well as parents, it can also be a great educational experience. Nowhere else do you have the opportunity to view a wide variety of rare and exotic animals from across the world, all in one location. Children can learn so much about the habitats and characteristics of all the animals, birds and reptiles and at the same time get an understanding of the geographical locations of where they originated. Make a whole day of it, dress yourself and the kids in cool comfortable clothing and maybe a little sunscreen, take along a picnic lunch or eat at the zoo's restaurants and enjoy the precious family time together.

Alexandra Edwards

Knoxville Zoological Gardens, located just east of downtown Knoxville is one of  East Tennessee's most visited zoos. Each year over 400,000 guests come to see and learn about some of the world's most fascinating and adorable animals, some of which are endangered and threatened species. Knoxville Zoo has 53 wooded acres of animal exhibits featuring over 900 animals from Australia, Africa, Asia, South America, North America, as well as some native to East Tennessee.

Mammal Exhibits include: African Elephant, Lion, Tiger, Black Bear, Giraffe, Gorilla, Red Panda, Prairie Dog, Red Wolf, River Otter, White headed Gibbon, white Rhino and Zebra.

Bird exhibits: African Penguin, Congo African Grey Parrot, Scarlet Macaw, Southern Ground Hornbill and Toco Toucan.

Reptiles exhibits: Various snakes, lizards, turtles and tortoises.

Throughout this summer the zoo's newest exhibits will include 'Buttercup,' the largest reticulated Python in the United States, which is a whopping 23 feet long, 24 inches in girth, and weighs 200 lbs., and also 'Tallulah,' a rare white alligator with striking pink eyes. Tallulah, who originates from the bayous of southern Louisiana is 6 feet long, weighs 40 pounds and is one of only 30 true albino American alligators. Louisiana bayou legend has it that white alligators bring good luck to those who dare look in their eyes.

Knoxville Zoo ranks one of the top two zoos in the world in breeding of endangered red pandas. Spark and Ember are two new adorable Red Panda cubs now on exhibit at the Boyd Family Red Panda Village nursery. Born to mother Akkali and father Chewbacca, the two female cubs who recently recovered from a bout of pneumonia are now playful, active and thriving.

Special events for the month of July will include Yo Gabba Gabba on Saturday, July 23rd from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Here you can meet Brobee and Foofa, two of the stars from the ever popular Nick Jr. show Yo Gabba Gabba!TM Children can have their photos taken with the two wildly popular friendly toy monsters.

Wee Play Zoo, is a relatively new interactive exhibit at Knoxville, where kids can dress up and try their hand at different roles throughout the zoo, either by selling tickets in the ticket booth, working the concession stand, preparing special diets for the animals in the commissary or they could play at being zoo-keeper for the day. Children can play at being veterinarians or become an animal researcher taking part in conservation projects. Of course, 'Wee Play Zoo' is exactly what it implies and just a fun way for kids to take part and meet the animals.

Kids can also let off some of that excess energy at the 'Kids Cove' where  they will find a play cabin, climbing areas, slides, a spider web, giant sandbox, water play feature with squirting frogs, a carousel as well as some exhibits around the play area which allow kids to still be around the animals.

For an additional charge and prior reservations, an exciting program held at the zoo each Saturday is 'Close Encounters of the Wild Kind' which gives visitors the chance to take an intimate behind-the-scenes tour and meet some high-profile zoo residents, choice of either giraffe, penguins, or giant Aldabra tortoises. Visitors will have the opportunity to touch or feed the animal, learn all about them from its zookeeper and have a photo taken with their new animal friend.

Camel or elephant rides, carousel rides, daily zoo-keeper chats about various animals around the zoo, animal shows, kids can learn so much in one day as well as have a heck of a great time.

Compared to a day at a theme park, admission to Knoxville Zoo is inexpensive; Adults $19.95, Children ages 2-12 $15.95, Children under 2 Free. The zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m until 4:30 p.m. and is located just east of downtown Knoxville just off Interstate 40 at exit 392A. From the interstate just follow the signs to 3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive.

For more information visit their website
or call  (865) 637-5331.

Have fun at the Zoo.