Posts Tagged With: Knoxville Zoo

A Love Triangle in Gorilla Valley?

One lucky, gorilla has the opportunity to find love here at the Knoxville Zoo. He will be introduced to two very lovely ladies, but only one will win his heart. Who will he choose?

 Meet Knoxville Zoo’s most eligible bachelor, Wanto.  Wanto left his life at Kansas City Zoo, and traveled all the way here to Knoxville hoping to find love. Living the single life for many years, Wanto is now ready to find a female companion to call his own.

About our Bachelor:


Age: 35

Home Zoo: Kansas City Zoo

Status: Male Silverback

Wanto, a true romantic is searching for a female companion who will provide love, loyalty, and share her craisins (one of his favorite snacks). Our bachelor enjoys the simple things in life: sunbathing, watching movies, and peanut butter covered celery. Since arriving at Knoxville Zoo Wanto is settling quite nicely into his bachelor pad at Gorilla Valley, and he is feeling more at home everyday. Wanto is eager to meet the exquisite contestants and begin his journey to find love.

Meet the Contestants :


Age: 29

Home Zoo: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Favorite Game: Tug-O-War

Hope is a playful girl with a big personality. Very outgoing and confident, Hope is sure to leave an impression on our bachelor



Age: 35Image

Home Zoo: Zoo Atlanta

Favorite Snack: Fruit

Quite, calm and smart, Machi is a mystery that is sure to leave Wanto wanting to know more.

So far, Hope and Machi have been getting along great and becoming the best of friends; however, competing for Wanto’s heart may tear their friendship apart.

Will our gorilla bachelor, Wanto find love at Knoxville Zoo? Who will win his heart? Will it be playful Hope or mysterious Machi? So many questions to be answered! Only time will tell if there will be a match made in Gorilla Valley.

Made possible by Knoxville Zoo and the matchmakers of Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

We Get That Question A Lot, And It’s Probably Not.

If you grew up in East Tennessee, or have lived here for a while, you probably recall being warned by grandmothers (who will remain nameless to protect their privacy) about the dastardly and diabolical copperheads who lurked in every woodpile and under every rock, just waiting to take a bite out of succulent you.  (Of course, these may have been the same grandmothers who took gullible kids on after-dark snipe hunts.  But that’s a story for a different day.  Or therapist.  Just keeping it all in perspective here, folks.)

With all that said, one of the most common phone calls we get is usually a statement, followed by a very breathless question:  “There’s a snake in my yard!  Is it a copperhead?”  Alternatively, we’ll receive emails of very blurry photos taken from a safe vantage point by a shaky and somewhat apprehensive photographer, but the subject line is pretty much the same.  So we thought it would be a great public service to the snakes and a great weight off the mind of those with snakes passing through their property to shed some light on the subject.

Enter Phil Colclough, our curator of herpetology, to talk about venomous snakes in East Tennessee!

For those of you who can’t stand the suspense, the odds that the snake you have encountered in your yard is a copperhead is pretty unlikely.  Suburbia is just not their scene in Knox County, Tennessee.

It’s always a pleasure to talk with Phil and any of our herpetologists, and they are particularly happy to set the record straight about the types of reptilian fauna one might encounter in our area and put to rest the myth that snakes are just looking for the perfect opportunity to invade your personal space.  Quite the opposite, actually.  “Snakes will not chase you,” says Phil.  “They’re just as eager to get away from you as you are probably from them.  They’re looking for a place to hide.”

Now for the preachy part.  Snakes are an important part of our ecosystems.  They control rodent populations, eat insects and for the most part try to go about their business anonymously.  Why, we could even begin a “Have you hugged your snake today” campaign to make up for many thankless encounters!

Wait, no.  That’s not what Phil advises.  “Leave them alone,” he says.  “Most snake bits occur when people are messing with snakes.”  Well, yes.  That is logical.  One could hazard a guess you are far more likely to bite someone if they are violating your personal space.  The paparazzi have taught us what snakes have known since time immemorial.

Happy snake watching!

Categories: Retiles | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

We’re So Cool We Should Change Our Name to “The Fonz”

Okay, maybe that title comes across as a bit conceited, but before you think we’ve lost our heads in a moment of  vanity, we should clarify exactly what we mean when we start talking about how cool we are.

You see, we’ve been noticing that East Tennessee seems to feel a whole lot hotter the past few years.  As in, “back when I was a kid, we rode our bikes until the street lights came on and it was nowhere near this hot!” kind of stuff.  Now, we realize that with age time, our mind tends to recall things perhaps slightly differently than they actually were.  (Welcome to codgerdom, no?)  But then we find that maybe we aren’t just imagining things when we see this article from the Knoxville News Sentinel…

Soooo, we got to studyin’ it, as we say here in East Tennessee, and realized that folks just don’t get the same enjoyment on their zoo visit when it’s over 90 degrees.  “So what can we do to make those days more pleasant for our guests?”, we asked ourselves.  Why, we could cool things off for them, of course!  (See, now we’re getting to that whole “cool” thing.)

Misters, as it turns out, were a good place to start.  So good, in fact, that we’ve added even more this year, making our pathways a veritable oasis on hot summer days.  We also happen to have the good fortune of lots of shade.  (Thanks, trees!)

And while misters are awesome, air-conditioning flat-out rocks, so we have lots of indoor areas for our guests to duck  into for a few moments of cool, air-conditioned bliss.  Probably our most popular stop to cool-off is Wee Play Zoo, an area designed for preschool through elementary-aged kids that lets them  run their very own zoo.  But we have noticed the recent addition of the Playground in a Box has turned into a favorite with adults, too…

But being able to actually play in the water, well, that just adds a whole new dimension to the keeping cool thing, n’est ce pas?  So we decided that we would build the biggest, most fabulous splash pad in the Knoxville area.  You might have heard of it-the Clayton Safari Splash?  At 5,000-square-feet, it has two life-sized giraffe, giant flowers galore, hoops and loops, fountains, water canons, and a toddler play area.  We think it is about the coolest thing ever-literally and figuratively.  (And special thanks to the Clayton Family Foundation for helping us make this a reality.)


So this summer, we say bring on the 90 degree heat!  Well, not really, but if it’s gonna be hot, we’re excited that we’ve got some of the coolest ways in Knoxville to stay comfortable.

Is it shaping up to be an awesome summer?  Exactamundo.

Categories: Splash Pad | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

At Last! The Answer to One of the Zoo’s Most-Asked Questions!

If you’ve visited the zoo in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that Edie, one of our African elephants, happens to have very shiny tusks these days…Image

Why, you ask, would an elephant be sporting metal caps on her tusks?  Is Edie accessorizing these days?

Well, while we must admit a girl likes a little bling, the reason is not due to Edie’s sense of style.

Edie likes to rub her tusks on things-all elephants do.  Unfortunately, this can ultimately cause cracks in her tusks, and since tusks are modified molars-giant teeth, if you will-cracks may eventually lead to an infection in the pulp of the tusk, which, in a worst-case scenario, might even lead to an elephant version of a root canal.  So our veterinarians and keepers placed stainless steel caps on the ends of her tusks to protect them-much like your dentist would cap a tooth.  The caps will hopefully prevent any future dentistry issues.  They’re attached to Edie’s tusks with epoxy, and will remain on the ends of her tusks as they grow.

Here’s a close-up of Edie showing off her shiny new caps:


Well, maybe she is just a tad bit vain.

Categories: elephants | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The School That Rare and Endangered Tortoises Built

Michael Ogle, our assistant curator of herpetology here at Knoxville Zoo, is kind of a big deal in the world of tortoise conservation, although he is far too modest to ever admit it.  He’s been a key part of our success breeding some of the rarest tortoises in the world, often making us the first zoo to do so.  He is particularly knowledgeable when it comes to species found in the country of Madagascar, which led to the invitation from the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to travel to southern Madagascar last month to work with some of his Malagasy counterparts to help locals care for confiscated tortoises.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest factors in the demise of the critically endangered spider and radiated tortoises is the illegal pet trade (these tortoises are highly sought after by collectors in Asia) and the fact that they are considered a delicacy by some more affluent members of Malagasy society.  And to add yet another peril, they are increasingly experiencing habitat destruction due to mineral mining in Madagascar.  These tortoises just can’t get a break.Image

Fortunately for them, there are people like Michael who want to help ensure a future for these guys, and one of the goals of his recent trip, (this is his second), was to teach basic husbandry to the team of police and forestry service employees, who, inadvertently, have found themselves de facto tortoise keepers due to the large number of confiscated tortoises they have intercepted in thwarted attempts to smuggle them out of the country for the pet trade.  (For every animal that survives the illegal trip out of the country, by the way, there are hundreds that do not.)  But the goal is to return every intercepted tortoise back to their native range, hence the need to care for them until they can be successfully transported and returned.  Here’ s Michael (tall guy with a sunburn in the middle of the back row) during one of their husbandry workshops.Image

Now, on to Michael’s other mission on this trip-educating the local villagers about tortoise conservation and encouraging them to re-energize their long tradition of respecting the tortoises who shared their home.  (And getting to that whole school thing.)

Madagascar is not a well-developed or affluent country, and in the villages, schools are rustic at best and students often have to travel long distances to another village to attend school.  The TSA, realizing that if you want to ensure the education of the next generation about the conservation of tortoises, among other things, then it would just make sense to build the village of Antsaokamasy a school.  So build a school they did.  Image

So thanks to the TSA, they now have a lovely new school, which will further the education of 60 students in the village.  But there was one small snafu-they needed schools supplies like desks and chairs and school supplies.  Enter Michael Ogle.

When Michael heard about their plight, he got the idea that he knew enough people who just might be able to help make sure they opened their new school with everything they needed.  So he got busy, and thanks to the generosity of quite a few folks, he raised $3,200 to not only provide the furniture they needed, but to also install solar panels on the roof of the school to light the classrooms!  (The village only has a generator that runs three hours a day to supply electricity.)Image

Michael tells us the children were extremely excited to show off their new school, and the village celebrated its opening with singing by the schoolchildren, speeches by local politicians and a feast of zebu, which is a very large cow found in Madagascar for you foodies out there.  He said they were so proud of their new school, racing inside to see it as soon as they had the opportunity.Image

And all of us are pretty proud of Michael for his skills with tortoises who desperately need his help.  Not to mention his soft spot for the schoolchildren of Antsakoamasy.

Categories: Madagascar | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

George R.R. Martin likes our dragon!

Fans of the popular book by George R. R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire, which also spawned the HBO series Game of Thrones, might have caught on that our new Komodo dragon is the namesake of the book’s dragon princess.  Well, as it turns out, Mr. Martin got wind of her and mentioned that he thinks this is really cool on his blog.  Needless to say, we’re very flattered!  And our herpetologists, who happen to be HUGE fans, are positively swooning.   You can catch his comment here.

Mr. Martin, thanks for making our day!  Khaleesi is quite a regal dragon, and definitely lives up to her name.


Ready for her close up!

Categories: Komodo dragon | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Progress, progress…

Our super-awesome splash pad is beginning to take shape.  Here’s a photo of the progress, circa week 1…


And at week 3, you can start to see the footprint…


And the giant flowers are waiting in the wings!


Categories: Splash Pad | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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