Nashville Zoo's Bear Exhibit Ranks in USA Today's Top 10

Nashville Zoo is proud to report Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear has been awarded fourth place in USAToday’s annual 10Best Contest.


The 10Best contest highlighted 20 zoo exhibits across North America and allowed the public to vote for which ones they believe deserved a spot in the Top 10. 

"One of our goals is to build the absolute best habitats for our animals and this exhibit is arguably the finest in the country for this species," said Rick Schwartz, Nashville Zoo President and CEO. "Nashville Zoo has become nationally recognized for the quality of our exhibits and is raising the bar on what animal habitats should be."

The 74,000-square-foot Expedition Peru exhibit opened in March 2018 and won the 2018 Excellence in Construction Award from the Greater Tennessee Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. During a visit to Nashville Zoo, Jack Hanna praised the beautiful foliage that decorates the exhibit landscape, as well as marveled at the authentic architectural design of the structures. 

“One of the things that we're trying most not to do is copy anyone else," Schwartz said. "When you come to Nashville Zoo as a visitor, you will not see these exhibits anywhere else."

The Peruvian village, which has welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests, is also the home of pudu (the world’s smallest deer), guinea pigs and freshwater stingrays. Exclusively for the Zoo’s female guests, there is a floor-to-ceiling exhibit of cotton-top tamarins in the women’s restroom.

USA Today gathered a panel of five seasoned travel and family experts who nominated their favorite zoo exhibits based on guest engagement and high level of animal care. The top 20 nominees ranged from zoos in California to Missouri to Pennsylvania. Among the top five were Lied Jungle exhibit at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley at Sedgwick County Zoo, Judy and Kerry Kent Family Sea Lion Sound at Saint Louis Zoo and Rocky Mountain Wild at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. 

The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is South America’s only bear species. Often referred to as the spectacled bear, this omnivorous species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Nashville Zoo houses two of only 36 Andean bears currently residing in 19 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions across the United States.

Nashville Zoo is a strategic partner of the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance to address the remaining wild population of Andean bears. The Zoo financially supports Andean bear conservation through the Wildlife Conservation Network. We also participate in the AZA's Andean Bear Species Survival Plan® to ensure the genetic diversity in the captive population. 

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About Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs and education initiatives around the globe as well as in our own backyard. The Zoo attracts more than 1,000,000 visitors annually and is considered one of the top attractions in Nashville. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit

About USA Today 10Best provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. No business pays to be listed. At its core is the team of local travel experts: a well-traveled and well-educated group who are not only experts in their fields - and their cities - but discriminating in their tastes. These local experts live in the city they write about, with constantly updated content.