Nashville Zoo Rises to Elite Status with Back-to-Back Exhibit Awards

Nashville Zoo is proud to announce that our Tiger Crossroads exhibit has received Top Honors for the Exhibit Design Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Nashville Zoo is proud to announce that our Tiger Crossroads exhibit has received Top Honors for the Exhibit Design Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This award was also given to the Zoo in 2019 for our Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear exhibit. Winning top honors in exhibit design for two years in a row has taken place only two other times in AZA history. The first in 1976 and 1977 at the Saint Louis Zoo. The second was 33 years ago in 1986 and 1987 at the Bronx Zoo. The Exhibit Design Award is the highest accomplishment for exhibit design given by the AZA.

“This is, quite honestly, the highlight of my 30 plus years here at the Zoo,” said Nashville Zoo President and CEO Rick Schwartz. “For our Zoo to stand alongside two of the most respected and well-known zoos in the country is a huge accomplishment. Our staff, board, Zoo members, and donors should all be very proud of what their support has been able to achieve.”

The Exhibit Design Award was presented during the virtual AZA Annual Conference, Sept. 14-18, 2020. The AZA Honors and Awards Committee was unanimous in their decision based on the overall aesthetics and authenticity of the exhibit, the improvements to the original space both for the animals and guests, the extraordinary level of exhibit detail, the high level of educational content, and Nashville Zoo’s long term commitment to tiger conservation. The committee was particularly impressed with the level of staff involvement allowing an exceptional level of detail and keeping costs manageable.

“Clearly it takes a great team to accomplish what we have done in the relatively short time since we opened in 1997,” said Schwartz. “I am always humbled about how our staff comes together to assist in building our award-winning exhibits. I am forever grateful.”

Nashville Zoo, in collaboration with the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institue and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, was also awarded the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for our long-term work, commitment, and success with clouded leopards. The award recognizes a significant captive propagation effort that either significantly enhances the population of a species, or represents a breakthrough in husbandry or breeding strategies that are significant milestones for creating a new zoo and aquarium population. Established in 2002, The Clouded Leopard Consortium successfully transformed a dwindling population of clouded leopards into a robust, genetically diverse program.

“Nashville Zoo, along with our partners, developed husbandry and socialization techniques that dramatically reduced clouded leopard infant mortality and vastly improved their managed care environment,” Schwartz said. “I am extremely proud that Nashville Zoo is being recognized for our long term commitment and expertise with this species.”

Additionally, Proyecto Titi, in partnership with Nashville Zoo, won the International Conservation Award for their long term commitment to raising public awareness to the plight of the endangered cotton-top tamarin.

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 1,260,000 visitors annually and is considered one of the top attractions in Nashville. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike. For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit