When you are looking for things to see and do in Knoxville, Tennessee you need look no further than the Knoxville Zoological Gardens. This is the formal name for what is commonly called the Knoxville Zoo.
You will find many species of animals and birds. It is not just one of the top tourist destinations in the state but in the US. People come from all over the country just to visit the zoo.
There are several popular exhibits at the Knoxville Zoo. Among these is the Black Bear Falls. This opened in 2000 and features a 40 foot long tunnel. This allows you to see the bear dens. The four waterfalls are each two stories high. There are viewing areas where you can watch the bears at play.
Part of the fun of visiting is the bird show. Several exhibits also have Keeper Chats where you can learn a lot about the animals.
Three elephants that call the Knoxville Zoo home are named Tonka, Jada and Edie. From the Stokely African Elephant Preserve you can watch them. If the weather is too cool for them to be outside there are viewing areas which allow you to observe them indoors.
Elephants have been stars at the zoo for as long as anyone can remember. At 13,300 pounds Tonka is the zoo’s largest resident. Her favorite food is Krispy Kreme Doughnuts that are given to her by the zoo staff. (Don’t try feeding them to him yourself. You’ll be directed to leave.)
The elephants are also artists with their own online store.
Yes, you read that right. You can purchase a painted that was created by an elephant at the Knoxville Zoo. It makes an interesting and unique gift. The proceeds go to benefit the zoo. The link for the elephant printing is http://store.knoxvillezoo.org/home.php?cat=256.
The Kids Cove is a great place for kids to visit. It’s only been open since spring 2005. Here you’ll find a petting zoo and lots of activities oriented for kids (such as a carousel). There is a bird aviary and even a beaver exhibit. To educate kids there are daily programs in this area. Kids can learn about the animals and the importance of taking care of the environment.
Visitors to the zoo should allow all day or at least several hours. Dress casual and wear comfortable shoes. Part of the zoo is located on a hill. Benches are scattered throughout.
The Zoo restaurant is named the Safari Grill. Concession stands are scattered throughout the park. At the time of this writing, zoo visitors are also allowed to bring in coolers. You are expected to place your trash in the proper receptacles.
The Knoxville Zoo is open 364 days a year. Visiting can be expensive. The cost per ticket is $16.95 for each adult and $12.95 for kids 12 and under. Senior Citizens also get in for $12.95. Parking is an additional $5 per car.
Arriving after 3:00 pm will get you into the zoo the next day for free.
During the winter months of January and February admission to the Knoxville Zoo is half-price. From the middle to the end of February temperatures start to warm up. This can be a great time to take advantage of the price savings at the zoo.
Families who visit the Knoxville Zoo may want to consider purchasing a membership.
A two-parent family membership is only $95.00. This includes a year of admission for two adults and up to four children. Additional children can be added to the membership for only $10. Plus, Zoo members receive free parking.
The cost for a family of two adults and two children for one day admission is $59.80 + $5.00 for parking.
A family membership has an extra hidden value. With a membership at a Knoxville Zoo you can get free or half-price admission to 180 other zoos across the country. There is a reciprocal zoo list online.
The Knoxville Zoo is located off of I-40 at Exit 392A (Rutledge Pk). There are motels throughout Knoxville in a wide array of brands and prices. A partial list of places to stay can be found on the zoo website.
More information can be found online or by contacting:
Knoxville Zoological Gardens
Tel: (865) 637-5331
Fax: (865) 637-1943