Touring the Knoxville Zoo

Sorry for the delay in posting. I’m sure you can’t guess where all my time has gone. As an interesting diversion, the fun fact of the day is that pigs have the longest villi in their intestines of any species (according to my professor, at least. There will be fact-checking later.).

Remember way back two months ago when I took that trip to Tennessee? Well, one of the opportunities I had was to tour the Knoxville Zoo with one of the attending veterinarians. This actually proved to be a wise decision because the animals were familiar with her and were therefore willing to interact with us more.

The Knoxville Zoo is actually known for their turtle and tortoise breeding program. Remember those bog turtles at the Tulsa Zoo? Yeah, they breed them here.

These are actually hibernation tubs they put the hatchlings in to get them used to their natural environment. Don’t worry, the fencing is not to keep people out but to prevent raccoons from walking off with a convenient turtle for a snack.

They had several other species as well, including these star tortoises:

Unfortunately, the Knoxville Zoo suffers from a lack of funding for their reptile facility (which hasn’t been updated since the 1960s), though they were recently awarded a grant that will help them revamp the exhibit. They also boast the largest (by weight) elephant in the United States, but if you look at their giraffe, you may question whether that weight is healthy or not.

This is what happens when you let the giraffe go through the drive through too many times. If you can’t see his fat rolls, I recommend clicking the picture for a larger size. The weird thing was that the spring-bok in the pen with him weren’t anywhere near as obese as he was. The meerkats definitely were, though. I guess they spent all the money they got from Meerkat Manor  on caviar and foie gras.

The fun thing about our trip was that everybody was friendly. The chimpanzees brought their chairs and toys up to the window to interact with our guide, and the baby red pandas were as roly-poly as you’d expect from seeing just pictures of them. Even the rhinos were friendly, following us as we walked around their enclosure. (Now, I’m not saying friendliness in wild animals is good, but when they’re in a zoo/park and are acting as ambassadors for their species, it’s good that they’re comfortable with the idea of it.)

This guy, however, was not very friendly.

In fact, he acted like an old codger with kids on his lawn. The zoo has a walk-in enclosure where you can see the red pandas (which the zoo is also known for) close up. However, as soon as this adult saw our group opening the door, he walked up the tree, woke up his companion by gently pawing him, looked at us, then walked straight down the tree headfirst and went inside with his companion following him. What a grouch.

Pandas aside, the zoo is inhabited by workers who obviously love what they do and are suffering from a distinct lack of the money necessary for the upkeep of their facilities. It could do with better information and signage around the enclosures, but, as we had a guide, it was easy to forget that. Change those things and put the giraffe on a treadmill (Hey, petite lap giraffes can do it! Ha!) and this could easily be a pretty great zoo.


2 responses to “Touring the Knoxville Zoo

    • 🙂 I loved the people working there! It made me happy that the animals all had someone who loves on them (well, as much as you can with reptiles). By the way, great blog. Love it!

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