The Memphis Zoo, located in Midtown-Memphis, Tennessee is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Created in April 1906, the zoo has been a major tenant of Overton Park for more than 100 years. The land currently designated to the Memphis Zoo was defined by the Overton Park master plan in 1988, and is owned by the City of Memphis. The zoo is set on 76 acres, of which approximately 55 acres are developed. In 2008, the Memphis Zoo was ranked #1 Zoo in the United States by TripAdvisor. The ranking was based on visitor opinions. Since the early 1990's, the Memphis Zoo has invested over $77 million for renovation and expansion. The zoo's animal inhabitants reside in three zones with 19 exhibits. The Memphis Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It was established on April 4, 1906, with $1,200 from the Memphis Park Commission. In August 1906, 23 cages and concrete bear enclosures were built with another $3,628 thanks to the head of the Commission, Col. Robert Galloway. Galloway Hall, the Memphis Zoo's first building, was finished in 1907 and was named in honor of Col. Galloway. It was later demolished to make room for newer exhibits.
My first day in Memphis was spent visiting the zoo. I always love visiting zoos in other cities because they all have something different. Especially having animals that are not in Chicago zoos...cheetahs, crocodiles, giant pandas and elephants, just to name a few. My first stop was visiting the African lions. When I first got there, they were chillin' in the shade but later came out to enjoy the bright sun. But for the most part they were still just lying around. But me being me, I waited for some kind of "activity" from the lions. I didn't get the lion's "roar" I was anticipating, but I did get a nice, long yawn that I can pretend was a roar. From the lions I went next door to my favorite land animal...the Cheetahs. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed that the cheetahs stayed in the shade for quite some time. I left several times, went back and they were still in the same spot. Yes, I know it was hot, but I'll catch them on the next go round. The next animal I visited were called Francois Langur, which is part of the monkey family. They were busy running around feeding on the tree bark and under large rocks. The Giant Pandas were next. There were two pandas, and it was feeding time for them. Although they were inside behind the thick glass, I was able to capture one of them feasting on some fresh bamboo trees grown at the zoo. Nearby were the Pere David's Deer and Red-Crowned Crane. The African elephants were next, and I caught them at feeding time as well. I also captured an elephant walking out of the shade, enabling a nice reflection in the pool. Across from the elephants were the Ostrich and Reticulated Giraffe. The giraffe were feeding as well, and I caught the whole family relaxing and playing in the shade. The Zebra and Scimitar-Horned Oryx were in the same pen, so I was able to capture both animals in one shooting. And since I missed my cheetahs, I got to see another one of my favorite animals...the Nile Crocodile. I noticed two crocodile, and were happy that they were laying in the grass and not in the water. Again, me being me, I waited for some kind of "activity" from the crocodile. And after waiting for about 20 minutes, I finally got the shot I wanted! I finally got the crocodile with his mouth open. And in case you didn't know, they open their jaws to cool themselves because they don't have sweat glands. After that capture, I was really ready to go since my cheetahs wouldn't cooperate with me...hahaha! My final animals were the Flamingo, Orangutans and Hippopotamus. On the whole, I had a great time at the Memphis Zoo. I will definitely stop by again on my next visit because I didn't get to see a lot of other animals like the grizzly bears, tigers and bald eagles.