I can see why the Memphis Zoo is one of the top 10 zoos in the US. It is a beautiful zoo, with nice animal habitats. I liked that each of the cat habitats had vertical space for them to climb on, many of the cats were sleeping on the top of the rocks when we were there. There zoo is set up in a circular shape, so its easy to walk and easy to see all the animals. They had a very nice Herpetarium (Reptile House) and Animals of Night House. They had it lit so that even in the dark you could still see the animals. Instead of having a traditional petting zoo, they had a farm. Your traditional petting zoo animals were there, but behind fencing. If the animals came to the fencing you could pet them, but this allowed the animals to control the situation without having human intrusion. I actually prefer this and think more zoos should implement this style of a petting zoo.
They offer keeper talks throughout the day. While we were there they were setting up for there Boo at the Zoo for Halloween and had some preparation for their zoo lights as well for Christmas. The Memphis Zoo is a reciprocity zoo, so we were able to get in for half off with our Columbus Zoo membership.
My favorite animals were definitely the Pandas. The Male Panda is “Le Le” and Female is “Ya Ya.” All Pandas in the United States are on loan from China and part of the Cooperative Breeding Program with the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) . Giant Pandas can also be seen at Zoo Atlanta and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The Pandas in San Diego went back to China in 2019 when the loan agreement ended. China owns all Pandas and typically loans cost 1 million dollars for 1 year for 1 panda. If a baby is born at the zoo, the zoo also has to pay $400,000 to China as well. Keep in mind this does not include the extra costs, such as habitat, medical care and cost of bamboo. So having a Panda (typically a breeding pair) is not a cheap endeavor, which is why so few zoos in America have Pandas and why loans don’t always get renewed.
I also loved the Dragon’s Lair. Komodo Dragons are one of my favorite animals and the Memphis Zoo had 5 of them. They have a successful breeding program which is part of the Species Survival Plan.