Memphis Zoo

Memphis, TN, U.S.A.

About Memphis Zoo

Created in April 1906, the Memphis Zoo has been a major tenant of Overton Park for more than 100 years.

It all began with a black bear named Natch – a retired baseball mascot. Today, the Memphis Zoo spans 70 acres and is home to more than 3,500 animals, representing over 500 different species.

The city-owned land currently designated to the Zoo was defined by the Overton Park master plan in 1988. The Memphis Zoo has completed more than $90 million in renovations and expansion, since the early 1990s. The Zoo’s animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibits like Once Upon A Farm, Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage and CHINA.

The Memphis Zoo’s mission is to connect people with wildlife.

“Our vision is to preserve wildlife through education, conservation and research. Aware that the zoo of tomorrow begins today, our staff and volunteers are dedicated to providing a naturalistic and enriching sanctuary for our animals, and a clean, friendly, entertaining and educational experience for our guests. Together, we are building one of the world’s great zoos.”

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Giant pandas at Memphis Zoo

The first giant panda at the Memphis Zoo was Xiu Hua. The Chapultepec Zoo loaned her to the Memphis Zoo from August 1 until September 6, 1987. She was on display at the gorilla exhibit.

On April 7, 2003 a giant panda couple, Ya Ya & Le Le, arrived at the Memphis Zoo for a ten year loan. Jim Sasser, the United States Ambassador in China from 1996 until 1999, played an important role in this pandadeal.

In 2013, that lease was renewed for another ten years. While Ya Ya has not yet produced a panda cub, the Zoo has made strides in panda reproduction studies, even an ability to predict a pregnant panda’s due date with excellent accuracy.

Memphis Zoo had designed a special habitat called the China Exhibit creating an environment that would make the visitors feel like they are in China. It is not just a giant panda exhibit, giant pandas Ya Ya and Le Le share their three-acre home with several other species native to China. China became the first Memphis Zoo exhibit to be built as zoogeographical – a word that describes exhibits that feature an animal collection from a specific part of the world.

The Memphis Zoo announced on December 21, 2022 that the panda loan agreement with China would end in 2023.

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