(865) 637-5331

Capital Improvement Projects

The impact of Knoxville Zoo's capital improvements will be felt in many ways and in many areas.  The zoo acts as the anchor tourist attraction for the city of Knoxville, consistently drawing a larger number of visitors than any other year-round attraction.
Over the next four years, $14 million in renovation projects will completely change the way big cats and reptiles are viewed at the zoo, and major new educational facilities will further enhance The Clayton Family Kids Cove.

Roaring to Go! Capital Campaign

Big Cat Country

At one time,  Knoxville Zoo had one of the largest and most diverse collections of big cats in the country.  Today, out-dated exhibits provide a sub-standard visitor experience, with fencing that often causes visitors to have trouble spotting the animals.  The planned renovations will create more stimulating habitats that will result in reproductive success, increased animal activity, and a better view of the species.  Knoxville Zoo is committed to working with, African lions and Malayan tigers.  Plans for the exhibit will also include a venue for after-hours private events.  Big Cat Country will encompass both the new lion and tiger exhibits and is being generously supported by the Haslam Family.

The John and Ann Schaad Family Lion Courtyard Pridelands will be the first section of Big Cat Country to open.  Current big cat exhibits will be reconstructed to provide a new home for Knoxville Zoo's African lions including two of the four cubs born at the zoo in the summer of 2006.  Special features will include a central courtyard that will allow visitors to meet the cats nose-to-nose through glass windows and view any future cubs while they are young.  Needed improvements will be made behind the scenes as well, including spacious privatized dens and better access for keeper and veterinary staff.  Animals in the central area will be switched out between lions and neighboring baboons as appropriate.



Additional Capital Improvement Projects

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Center (ARCC).
Knoxville Zoo's reptile collection is one of the largest and most diverse in the country, but the current facilities allow only about 20% of the collection to be seen.  The intent is to construct the zoo's first indoor year-round animal facility that will immerse visitors in the habitats of the animals they are viewing.  Planning includes Disney-esque experiences and state of the art technology to increase the learning potential and stimulate the interest in nature that exists in all of us.
The Amphitheater
By positioning a new amphitheater in The Clayton Family Kids Cove children's area, the zoo anticipates much higher attendance at daily animal shows as well as traveling family programs.
Outreach Animal Facility
A holding facility will be constructed in tandem with the amphitheater to allow staff easy access to animals in the show.  The new facility will allow us to increase the size of our outreach collection and introduce larger, more charismatic animals for the enjoyment of the audience, both on-site and through the ZooMobile Outreach Program which reaches nearly 10,000 school children in the community each year.
The zoo's on-site annual audience includes over 50,000 children who participate in school field trips and other education programs such as scouts, overnights and camps.  A new schoolhouse will provide much-needed classroom space and student work areas.
The Nature Exchange
At the Nature Exchange, located inside the Schoolhouse, children will be encouraged to bring in their natural treasures.  A trained naturalist will listen to their stories about what the object is, where it came from, and why it is unique and will then award points based on the child's knowledge and initiative.  The points become currency to trade for other natural items.
The Endowment
Also included in the campaign, is an endowment component to set the cornerstone for financial security.  The Clayton family is the generous lead investor in Knoxville Zoo's endowment.
If you are interested in contributing to Knoxville Zoo's Big Cat Country Capital Campaign or any of our other capital improvement projects, please contact our Development office at (865) 637-5331.