Animal encounters at the Knoxville Zoo, Tennessee

Animal encounters at the Knoxville Zoo, Tennessee
We decided to go to the Knoxville zoo as an outing for us all. Tickets are expensive at 20 $ an adult, but since the kids had a membership they went in as a family for free and my ticket was at a discount. The zoo was crowded with kids and parents and it was fun jumping into the free ride to the zoo in an electric car that we enjoyed. Filling up the form and paying to renew their membership took a few minutes, while we watched a couple of sparrows flying around with nesting material in their beaks.

Going in, one can see its a smaller sized zoo compared to the world class zoo we had seen in Omaha, Nebraska. Much smaller, but kept well with no smelly cages around. All the magnolias were in bloom as we walked in to see the Beavers. The pristine white Star Magnolias scented the air around them. And they reminded me of our Champakas in India. The cute beavers had a whole enclosure to themselves.

The zoo had very nice Animal Encounters events. Animal Encounters where kids and adults who want to learn more about their favorite animal sat in for Animal Encounters, which take place daily. Each Animal Encounter teaches you about a specific animal, including information about diet, habitat, status in the wild, and more. There were: Elephant Keeper Chat,Lion Training Demo (Valley of the Kings), Bald Eagle Keeper Chat, Screech Owl Keeper Chat, White-naped Crane (Tiger Forest) Rhinos Keeper Chat, Giraffe or Zebra Keeper Chat. Good for people who knew nothing about animals from our side of the world. All Animal Encounters were dependent on weather and animal participation.

The Bird Show is a favourite. This is when the Zoo Knoxville’s trainers introduce one to birds from around the world in a free flight show. Featuring African cranes, endangered parrots, birds of prey and Einstein, a Congo African Grey parrot with an exceptional repertoire of words and sounds. It is a dynamic experience with some of the birds zipping past pretty close to one’s ears.

The African Elephants enclosure was faraway from their grasslands in Africa habitat. The Stokley African Elephant Preserve offers visitors the chance to see Zoo Knoxville’s elephants, perhaps enjoying a dip in their pool or enjoying cooler temperatures in the barn, from the indoor viewing area. Strange to see elephants in such a cold country and seemingly quite accustomed and acclimatised.

The African Lions Habitat,was called the Valley of the Kings. Just like house cats, these “kings of the jungle” enjoy napping 18-20 hours a day. There was one beauty sunning itself on a preferred perch and one under a very Asian looking pagoda. But, as the zoos warning signs read--” be warned that lions mark their territory, so make sure you are out of range when they are in close proximity.” Lions have IUCN Red List Status and are a vulnerable species.
The zoo only had Malayan Tigers, no Indian ones to my disappointment, but I could see no difference. The Zoo Knoxville’s tigers are definitely not afraid to get a good look at visitors, although if they aren’t moving around, look for them having a nap or swimming in their pool. Among the rarest of animals, there are only approximately 300 estimated that remain in the wild and approximately 50 in North American zoos. These animals too have IUCN red list status and are endangered.

I was really happy to see Red Pandas which are sponsored by the Boyd family. According to the keeper, more red pandas have been born in Knoxville than at any other zoo in the world, and it’s obvious they feel right at home. We were lucky to see the famous red panda style of lounging, with all four legs dangling below them, while they stretch out on a limb. These too are on the IUCN red list status and endangered.

I had never seen a Red Wolf. The Zoo Knoxville’s red wolves blend in to their habitat, but you may spot them standing sentinel on top of their shelter or curled up for a nap at the base of a tree. Once you spot them, it’s obvious, but you’ll appreciate their ability to blend in even more. These too are on the IUCN red list and are sadly critically endangered.

It was wonderful to see the White-naped Crane sponsored by the Boyd Family. Apparently they are known to be graceful dancers during courtship, flapping their wings, bowing, calling and putting on a show. Their wetland habitat has become threatened, leaving these birds rare in the wild. They too are on the IUCN red list and are vulnerable.

For the kids ( adults too are allowed) there were special Camel rides. Famously called ships of the desert, they were domesticated more than 3,000 years ago, but are still used by humans for transport in desert environments. The price of a ride: $6 per rider $5 for annual passholders.

Contact: ZOO KNOXVILLE, 3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive, Knoxville, TN 37914, Phone: 865.637.5331. Weekdays 9am - 4pm Open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Last admissions one hour before the zoo closes each day.




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