New at the Zoo: Tortoises, BBQ and a Remodeled Petting Zoo
Guests to Nashville Zoo will enjoy a few new features in and around the popular Critter Encounters area. This Saturday, July 27, two female Galapagos tortoises, named Bella and Darwin, will make their public debut in the recently remodeled Critter Encounters.
“This is the first time we have exhibited Galapagos tortoises at Nashville Zoo, and we couldn’t be more excited to introduce guests to one of the oldest living animals in the world,” said Rick Schwartz, Nashville Zoo president. “Galapagos tortoises can live up to 150 years, so Zoo visitors will get to enjoy these two for many generations to come.”
Bella and Darwin are 20 years old and weigh 280 and 200 pounds, respectively. Once full grown, the female tortoises will be around 350 pounds. The Galapagos tortoise is native to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. They are known for playing a significant role in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Only 11 subspecies of the Galapagos tortoise remain and all are considered endangered. Special thanks to Rodes and Patricia Hart for funding the Galapagos tortoise exhibit.
In addition to the tortoises, Critter Encounter also includes goats, alpaca, Dromedary camels and a variety of birds. The area recently underwent an extensive renovation with expanded holding areas, huts with antique roofs, new fencing, woodchips and landscaping. Just down the path from Critter Encounters, the Zoo offers a newly opened Tennessee Barbeque Depot, a food outpost featuring hand-pulled pork and turkey breast, homemade sides and sauces.
Nashville Zoo is accredited by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. Attracting more than 780,000 visitors annually, the Zoo is considered one of the top things to do in Nashville. The Zoo is a non-profit organization located at 3777 Nolensville Pike and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The mission of Nashville Zoo is to inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership. For more information about Nashville Zoo, call 615-833-1534 or visit www.nashvillezoo.org.