Besides the wide variety of animals on display, the zoo hosts a daily calendar of events that allows visitors to learn more about the residents as well as the zoo’s research and conservation efforts. Programs include a sea lion show, a grizzly bear feeding, a farm chat, and presentations by an array of different animal keepers.
Two giant pandas native to China are some of the zoo’s stars, being among a select bunch found in the United States. Head over to the Northwest Passage to see an underwater view of polar bears swimming, the Teton Trek for resident grizzlies, or the African Veldt for elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and other species native to Africa.
Things to Know Before You Go
Group rates are available, as are special rates for on-duty military, seniors (age 60+), and Tennessee residents.
Food and drinks are available at the Cat House Café and at various (seasonal) concession stands throughout the zoo.
The Zoo Tram, offering transportation options for those with limited mobility, runs around the property for a small fee.
The zoo is accessible to strollers and wheelchair users. Wheelchairs (both electric and manual) and strollers (single and double) are available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
How to Get There
Located in midtown Memphis, the zoo is accessible by car or public transportation. MATA buses 50 and 53 run along Poplar and Summer, respectively, and both stop near the zoo. There is also a paid parking lot.
When to Get There
The zoo is open from 9am to 5pm March 1 to October 15, and 9am to 4pm October 16 to February 28; last admission is one hour before close. During the holiday season, the zoo features Zoo Lights, a spectacular light display spread throughout the property. The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Ya Ya and Le Le
Learn more about these two giant pandas at the Panda Keeper Chat, held most days of the week. Ya Ya (female) and Le Le (male) came from China on a lease in 2003, and their loan was renewed for another 10 years in 2013. Only four zoos in the US house giant pandas: Memphis Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, and Smithsonian’s National Zoo (in Washington DC). Although the pair has yet to produce a cub, the zookeepers have been able to use them to study panda reproduction, which helps in conservation efforts.