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The Memphis Zoo

Updated on October 23, 2014
Sylvestermouse profile image

After many years of traveling, I have a few tricks to make traveling easier that I share, as well as some great destination suggestions.

Red Panda
Red Panda | Source

A Zoo You Must See

The Memphis Zoo is definitely worth the drive! No matter where we go on vacation, we always take a day to visit that cities zoo.

From Florida to Hawaii we have visited zoos across the U.S. By far, my favorite zoo is in Memphis, TN. The city of Memphis may be home of the Blues, Beale Street, Elvis, Graceland, Sun Studios and the Mississippi River Bluffs, but I would add the Memphis Zoo to their list of places you must see when you visit. As a matter of fact, if you ask me, it should be at the top of the list!

If you find yourself traveling through Mississippi, Arkansas or Tennessee,

I would highly recommend a side trip to Memphis for a day at the zoo.

Memphis Zoo Entrance Photo
Memphis Zoo Entrance Photo | Source

Entrance to the Memphis Zoo

Before you even buy your ticket and enter the zoo, you are greeted by Egyptian style architecture which is in and of itself a vision. There are large concrete animals in rows out front where we saw parents taking pictures of their children proudly "riding" the animals.

This is your first indication of the adventure that awaits you inside the gates of the Memphis Zoo.

Entrance of the Memphis Zoo at Christmas

Tigers in Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo

Tigers in Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo
Tigers in Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo | Source
White Tiger
White Tiger | Source

Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo

This is one of the areas that make the Memphis Zoo spectacular. These gorgeous cats are not behind bars. They are in open fields created to mimic their natural habitat. Believe me; they can definitely make you feel like you are the prey in an African savannah.

Cat Country is the home of some of the most beautiful specimen of big cats. In addition to tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, and jaguar, this is also the area for a red panda, a gorgeous lynx and a family of meerkats; my daughter's personal favorite.

If you want to go on an African Safari for a reasonable price, this is the place for you!

Meerkats in the Memphis Zoo

Meerkats in the Memphis Zoo
Meerkats in the Memphis Zoo | Source
Cacomistle at the Memphis Zoo
Cacomistle at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Animals of the Night at the Memphis Zoo

This is where I first fell in love with a vampire. Step aside "Twilight", the bat was here first!

There are so many wonderful creatures in this house. This exhibit is full of nocturnal animals. I doubt we even saw them all. In addition to the bats, they have an Aardvark, a Mole Rat, a few Porcupine, several different species of Loris, a Sloth, a Wombat, a Cuscus and a lot of other night time beauties. I have never seen a better nocturnal exhibit anywhere.

Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragon | Source

The Komodo Dragon at the Memphis Zoo

This dude is huge! He made me feel like I was on exhibit for him instead of the reverse. While the Komodo Dragon is not normally dangerous to humans, it was obvious to me that he eats mammals. Ironically, I was not the least bit intimidated by any of the big cats or the bears, but this guy scared the dickens out of me.

But don't worry, he has a gigantic fan club. I'm just not a member.

Birds | Source

Tropical Bird House at the Memphis Zoo

This is another house where we could spend hours. So many beautiful birds and so little time. The colors on these birds are so bright & vivid. Seeing them up close truly is better than seeing them through binoculars. In spite of the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them up close, I honestly had the desire to set them all free, but logically I know that they are healthy and well cared for by their keepers at the Memphis Zoo.

While there are lots of gorgeous birds behind glass enclosures for one to view up close, the fabulous attraction in this house is the vast open room with trees and water literally filled with birds. The sounds and sights in this area are breathtaking.

This really is a birdwatchers fantasy come true!

Nicobar Pigeon (Do you see the little Yellow Headed Blackbird in the background left?)

Nicobar Pigeon (Do you see the little Yellow Headed Blackbird in the background left?)
Nicobar Pigeon (Do you see the little Yellow Headed Blackbird in the background left?) | Source
Hippos at the Memphis Zoo
Hippos at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Hippos at the Memphis Zoo

Hippos can be viewed daily at the Memphis Zoo. Currently the Hippos await their new home, "Zambezi River Hippo Camp" which will also feature other animals found near the Zambezi River such as the Nile Crocodile and Okapi.

Memphis Zoo guests will then be able to enjoy seeing hippos both on land and below water, similar to the type of viewing in the Northwest Passage exhibit.

Did you know that Hippos are the deadliest animals in Africa?

Zambezi River Hippo Camp Coming Soon!

Turtles at the Memphis Zoo
Turtles at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Aquarium at the Memphis Zoo

This is another building one could explore for hours. The Aquarium is home to 156 species of marine and freshwater organisms from around the world.

The Memphis Zoo currently breeds and exhibits two species of cichlid that are extinct in the wild.

If fish, turtles, or aquatic wildlife are your passion, this is the place to be!

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Herpetarium at the Memphis Zoo

If I ever lost my son at the zoo, the Herpetarium is where I could find him. This building is literally packed with frogs, spiders, snakes, lizards and small alligators.

While there are plenty of faces crowding around the snakes, I am glad to say that we crowd around the frogs. The colors on frogs are so bright and vivid. It is hard to choose, but I think our favorite would be the Poison Dart Frog.

However, the Memphis Zoo is reknowned for being the first zoo to successfully breed the endangerd Mississippi Gopher Frog (pictured). The Memphis Zoo has produced 93 Mississippi gopher tadpoles, a number nearly matching the 100 frogs still living in the wild.

Poison Dart Frog at the Memphis Zoo

Poison Dart Frog at the Memphis Zoo
Poison Dart Frog at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Penguin Rock, Round Barn & Once Upon a Farm

These are a few areas that little children especially enjoy. My daughter would never allow us to visit a zoo without locating the penquin. She adores the little "tuxedo" babies and believe me, there are plenty of penquin on Penquin Rock.

Round Barn is an exhibit of smaller exotic hoofstock and birds. It is the home of the gazelles and warthog.

Once Upon a Time is an exhibit where visitors can learn about the basics of farm life. This area is built to resemble a farm in the 1900's. They even have a working well that pumps up fresh water and everyone can enjoy a ride an old-fashioned train around the exhibit.

China Exhibit at the Memphis Zoo

The Memphis Zoo has built a big, beautiful home for the Giant Panda Bears. As you enter through the gates of the China exhibit, you follow a path that leads to Ya Ya and Le Le, but long before you get to them, there are huge ponds of fish, a variety of birds, ducks and several other species native to China. There is even a little Otter. No question the Panda's are fantastic, but the other animals in this "house" are fascinating as well.

Panda at the Memphis Zoo

Panda at the Memphis Zoo
Panda at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Denizens of the Deep South

This is a small exhibit that has above ground and underground viewing of an Alligator named Beta.

Concrete steps lead down to underwater viewing of Beta, an Alligator Gar & even a Largemouth Bass.

via Wikimedia
via Wikimedia | Source

Primate Canyon at the Memphis Zoo

Primate Canyon is another area that features naturalistic, outdoor exhibits. This large open area is home for a variety of monkeys and apes. Monkeys, Orangutans and Gorillas abound in this exhibit.

Primate Canyon is in the center of the zoo. As a result of its location, you call hear the monkeys howling through out the park. It opened in 1995 and has been a top favorite of Zoo visitors ever since.


Butterfly Garden

This extraordinary Butterfly Garden is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It is absolutely filled with gorgeous flowers graced by lovely butterflies. Some were so exquisite that they didn't even look real, but they were definitely alive.

Not only did we see hundreds of butterflies, but my son found a Luna Moth. Because a Luna Moth has such a short life, it is rare to sight one. Clearly, seeing the Luna Moth was the highlight of our visit to the Memphis Zoo.

Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden
Butterfly Garden
baby giraffe
baby giraffe | Source

African Veldt and Hippos at the Memphis Zoo

The African Veldt is an area dedicated to Giraffes, Rhinos, Zebras, & Elephants.

We were there at just the right time to see the whole Giraffe family. Mother, father & baby giraffe all came out to eat while we were standing in front of their enclosure. While the baby may not be little next to one of us, she was absolutely dwarfed by her parents.

This is also where the ostrich and the antelope play. Okay, I admit it, this is the point where I showed my ignorance at the zoo. I honestly thought the little Dik-dik was a deer and started singing "home, home on the range."

Oh, well, at least Memphians are accustomed to various styles of musical talent and my family learned decades ago to either laugh with me or to ignore me.

White-Naped Crane
White-Naped Crane | Source

World of Waterfowl

This area is a more peaceful area than the rest of the zoo. It is aptly named because there are indeed a world of waterfowl!

There are two bridges to walk across and watch beautiful Swans,

Pink Flamingos or a variety of geese and ducks swimming or view a Crane just standing around.

The area around the waterfowl lake is lovely too. It would make a great background spot for photos.

I have often imagined a wedding party enjoying this wonderful opportunity for outstanding and original pictures. Or, perhaps, an anniversary party :)

The picture of the White-Naped Crane is from my own personal photo album. I was thrilled to be able to snap this shot!

Black Bear at the Memphis Zoo
Black Bear at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Northwest Passage at the Memphis Zoo

Another one of my favorite exhibits at the Memphis Zoo is the Northwest Passage. In this exhibit there is an air conditioned, indoor viewing area where you can watch the Polar Bears swim. There are even a few stadium benches for you to sit and rest a while.

The Polar Bears are beautiful. Who would ever imagine such a large bear could be so graceful when it swims? These giant animals seem so playful and cuddly when you have a thick piece of Plexiglas between you and them. What a magnificent way to enjoy the company of bears.

Northwest Passage is also the home for the sea lion observation bubble and a 500-seat amphitheater for daily sea lion shows.

Outside the viewing area, are the Bald Eagles and the Ravens. Both of my children "talked" to the Ravens and they answered. They are beautiful, majestic birds with attitude.

This is also the area of the Black Bear. I loved this beautiful, big pawed, pacing baby! I would swear he was waving to me every time he lifted his big paw to turn around.

You Knew I Would Show You The Polar Bear Viewing Area ~ He's almost close enough to touch!

You Knew I Would Show You The Polar Bear Viewing Area ~ He's almost close enough to touch!
You Knew I Would Show You The Polar Bear Viewing Area ~ He's almost close enough to touch! | Source
Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo
Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Teton Trek at the Memphis Zoo

Home of the real Memphis Grizzly!

In February, 2008, the Memphis Zoo began construction of the zoo's gorgeous Teton Trek exhibit. The four-acre Teton Trek exhibit is now home for animals native to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem such as Grizzly Bears, Elk, Gray Wolves, Trumpeter Swans and Sandhill Crane.

I was among the guests at the Teton Trek in the Memphis Zoo the very first week it opened. Let me tell you, it is the most beautiful zoo exhibit I have ever seen, arguably the most beautiful in the world!

The entrance to the Teton Trek lodge is not only inviting, it is charming with a rustic appeal befitting it's occupants. A lovely 25 foot geyser greets visitors and even allows children, or adults, to cool off in it's spray and surrounding pool.

The Great Lodge, itself, is a two-story, 5000 sq. foot multi-purpose building suited for a gathering or dinner party and features a fabulous large fireplace. A spacious upper mezzanine provides a photo and artifact area the leads to a outside deck for animal viewing at a safe distance.

For the truly adventurous, you are free to walk around the actual grounds, It is extremely safe, so fear not! Don't miss the opportunity to walk through the entire park.

Grizzly Bear at the Memphis Zoo

Grizzly Bear at the Memphis Zoo
Grizzly Bear at the Memphis Zoo | Source

Coming Soon to the Memphis Zoo ~ Zambezi River Hippo Camp

The Memphis Zoo is always improving, constantly working to make a better environment for the animals and a more pleasing visit for guests.

Zambezi River Hippo Camp will be designed to mimic a traditional Zambezi fishing village. Hippos and Nile crocodiles will be seen from the river’s edge as well as from an underwater viewing perspective. Flamingos will gather in mud flats, and two species new to the Zoo, Okapi giraffe and Mandrill baboons, will inhabit a forest along the river.

The Memphis Zoo is close to beginning construction on the $18.3 million project. They are presently completing construction documents. Construction of Zambezi River Hippo Camp will begin in October 2013 with an opening date of March 2015.

The Photos in this article are the Exclusive Property of ©Sylvestermouse.

Please Do No Copy, Reproduce or Use the Photos without the written permission of Sylvestermouse Cynthia.

Many of the photos are available for purchase at if you would like to own a legal copy.

The Photos by Sylvestermouse Available for Purchase at

Thank you for stopping by!

Do Come Back and See Me Again!

~ Sylvestermouse ~

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© 2009 Cynthia Sylvestermouse

Wouldn't You Like To Go To The Memphis Zoo? - I know I want to go back!

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    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Wow!! I scrolled through this just to see the photos again and again! Zoos are always fun to visit.....educational too. It's one of those places that an entire family can enjoy! Nice Hub. Thanks for the info. Paula

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      What fantastic photos! I've always wanted to go to Memphis and if I ever do I will definitely go to the Memphis Zoo!

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 7 months ago from Templeton, CA

      This is going on my bucket list. I love the San Diego Zoo, but this one may even be better. I love the natural settings. At most zoos, the nocturnal animals, including the big cats, are usually hiding out of sight somewhere in the daytime. That is always disappointing not to be able to see them.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 months ago from Savannah, Georgia

      The Memphis Zoo looks like a WONDERFUL zoo to visit. Today would be a good day to go -- it's 'Visit a Zoo' Day! :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I don't think I have ever seen that poison frog. Looks like this zoo has many to show.

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