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  • Writer's pictureMary Ann

Nashville Zoo's Special Rhino Tour Now Includes Touching, Petting & Scratching

A popular behind-the-scenes tour to meet Nashville Zoo’s white rhinoceros is now much more up-close and tactile. Guests participating in the Zoo’s Rise & Shine with Rhinos tour can now touch, pet and scratch these two-ton gentle giants.

As part of the Zoo’s Backstage Pass program, the Rise & Shine with Rhinos tour is offered on weekends at 9:30 a.m. Up to 10 guests take a 75 minute guided tour to learn about rhino care, behavior, and conservation. The tour offers access to areas not available to the general public.

“Being able to enter our rhino barn and put your hands on these beautiful animals is an experience that will last a lifetime,” said David Oehler, Vice-President of Nashville Zoo. “We believe guests taking this tour will walk away with a newfound appreciation for rhinos and help to save them from extinction.”

The Zoo’s crash (herd) of Southern while rhinoceros includes four females (Nandi, Kacie, Norma, and Modwani) and one male (TC). Keepers are encouraging breeding as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan to help ensure a genetically diverse captive population.

While the Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is the least endangered of the living rhino species, they are listed as near threatened due to habitat loss and illegal poaching. In South Africa alone, poachers kill three or more rhinos per day to feed the demand for rhino horns on the black market. All proceeds from the Rise & Shine with Rhinos tour will help to fund rangers who protect wild rhinos by establishing guard posts, developing rapid response teams, and supporting intelligence networks. This work is making significant progress in fighting poachers.

The Rise & Shine with Rhinos tours are $170 for Nashville Zoo members and $190 for non-members and includes admission to the Zoo. No children under 12 years old are permitted on the tour, and each child up to age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Nashville Zoo offers a variety of experiences through our Backstage Pass program including encounters with giraffes, okapi, sloths, clouded leopards and a tour of the Zoo's Veterinary Center. These tours are very popular and guests are encouraged to make reservations in advance by visiting

About Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs, and education initiatives around the globe as well as in our own backyard. With support from the Nashville community, donors, and sponsors including our Experience Partners: Coca-Cola Consolidated and Middle Tennessee Honda Dealers, the Zoo is a top Nashville attraction and is consistently voted one of the best places to visit by TripAdvisor, Yelp, and a host of local and national review sites. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike. For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit


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