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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Nashville Zoo's Andean Bear Exhibit Opens March 15

Photo Courtesy of the Phoenix Zoo

Nashville Zoo is pleased to announce that the new exhibit, Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear, graciously funded by 12 significant donors, will open on Thursday, March 15. The addition of Andean bears will mark the first time this species has ever been housed at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere in its entire 21-year history.  

“We’re excited to introduce our Andean bears and a brand new, outstanding exhibit to Nashville,” said Rick Schwartz, Nashville Zoo President and CEO. “One of our goals is to build the absolute best habitats for our animals and this exhibit is arguably the finest in the country for this species. We want to thank the community and our members for their unwavering support and patience during this period of exponential growth.”

From the moment guests step into this new biome, they will be immersed in an authentic, indigenous village with a Peruvian lodge containing interactive educational displays and spectacular observation points to gaze at these South American bears. Visitors will get unobstructed views of the bears from several areas, including one underwater. At other points, guests will have the opportunity to observe from a viewing deck and watch behavioral training presentations.

The Peruvian village not only includes Andean bears but is also the home of pudu (the world’s smallest deer), guinea pigs and freshwater stingrays. Exclusively for the Zoo’s female guests, there is a floor-to-ceiling exhibit of cotton-top tamarins in the women’s restroom.

“The Zoo is an important asset for Nashville, and we, along with our fellow Nashvillians, love it,” said John Ingram, lead donor of the exhibit. “We have long admired Rick Schwartz, and his enthusiasm for the Andean Bear exhibit was infectious. Nashville Zoo continues to grow in stature – nationally and internationally, and Stephanie and I appreciate having the chance to help make this growth possible.”

The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is South America’s only bear species. Often referred to as the spectacled bear, this omnivorous species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Nashville Zoo houses three of only 34 Andean bears currently residing in 20 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions across the United States.

Nashville Zoo is a strategic partner of the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance to address the remaining wild population of Andean bears. The Zoo financially supports Andean bear conservation through the Wildlife Conservation Network. We also participate in the AZA's Andean Bear Species Survival Plan to ensure the genetic diversity in the captive population. 

The generous donors that helped fund Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear are as follows: Stephanie and John Ingram; The Frist Foundation; Dugas Family Foundation; Speer Foundation; Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation; Andrienne and Richard McRae III & the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation; Cynthia and David Arnholt; Barbara and Rick Turner Jr.; Kim, Charles and Charlie Crews; Julie and Breck Walker; Kent, Nora and Emme Kirby; and Sally and Neely Coble III. Thank you to Middle Tennessee Honda Dealers for sponsoring the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

To learn more about the Zoo’s newest Andean bear exhibit,


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