The Memphis Zoo isn’t the only zoo in Tennessee that’s working on bringing its visitors new experiences. The Nashville Zoo is engaged in a number of exciting new projects, and one of their largest projects, 3-acres in size and at a cost of $8.3 million to be exact, is Expedition Peru – The Trek of the Andean Bear.
In June, the zoo welcomed Luka, a female Andean bear (sometimes called a spectacled bear), from the Phoenix Zoo to join two other male Andean bears already at the zoo. The Andean bear is one of the most endangered bear species, and its starring role at the Nashville Zoo’s new expansion will help raise awareness about and appreciation for this rare species.
Themed to the South American cloud forest ecosystem, Expedition Peru will allow zoo guests to get up close and connect with over 20 species. The centerpieces of the exhibit will be the Andean bear exhibit and the Peruvian Lodge, which is inspired by a real-life lodge at the base of the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. Inside the Peruvian Lodge will be a variety of interactive educational displays about Peruvian culture as well as about the animals that guests will see throughout the experience. The Lodge will also contain an indoor viewing area for the bear exhibit, a portion of which will include underwater viewing.
Other exhibits in the expansion will include a dual habitat for pudu, the world’s smallest species of deer, and viscacha, a rodent known for its long bushy tail. An aquarium display will be home to freshwater stingrays and other aquatic species, and another exhibit will be home to over 50 guinea pigs. The guinea pig display will include educational materials on the roles that guinea pig domestication play in Peruvian culture. Sloths and marmosets will also be on display in the expansion.
The Expedition Peru project is the first piece of what the Nashville Zoo is calling its “Grow Wild” campaign, which aims to develop more acres of the zoo, as only 84 of the 188-acre zoo property is fully utilized. The plans for zoo expansion under the Grow Wild campaign continue all the way through 2020 and include $160 million worth of projects that the zoo has divided into three phases. The Expedition Peru expansion is just a part of the Phase 1 collection of projects.