What’s there to do in Nashville with kids? Plenty!
[Disclosure of material connection: the kind folks over at the Nashville Zoo provided us with complimentary passes.]
Our whole family loves the Nashville Zoo. On a hot summer day, it’s a welcome diversion from the hustle and bustle of downtown, taking you instead through balmy oases with stunning botanicals, winding paths, and — oh yes — gorgeous animal habitats.
During our most recent excursion, we toured the Nashville Zoo’s incredible new HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center. And wow. Seriously impressive.
For starters, it’s huge! The center boasts modern architecture which compliments the rustic and wild natural surroundings, and spans over 20,000 square feet. Examination rooms, incubators and nursery space, an intensive-care unit, radiology facilities, and an in-house laboratory are all staffed by a team of highly-qualified staff and technicians.
Plus, there’s a full veterinary operating theater. And since one wall is glass, surgeries are viewable from the Veterinary Center’s impressive outdoor (but covered and climate-friendly) observation deck. Even if the operating theater is not active when you’re there, you can pause and watch an educational films recounting the Zoo’s ongoing conservation animal care endeavors. Did you know some animals at the Nashville Zoo even get acupuncture?
You can follow the @NashZooVet Twitter account to find out which animals are currently viewable at the center, and see the daily treatment schedule so you can catch feedings, exams, operations, animal acupuncture, and so much more.
If you’re local to the area, this is a particularly good reason to get a season pass — there is so much to observe each day at the Veterinary Center!
And I love this — since the Nashville Zoo is an integral part of the Clouded Leopard Species Survival Program, you just might catch a glimpse of some absolutely adorable leopard cubs through the observation windows.
The head veterinary doctor at the zoo is one of the nation’s premier experts on clouded leopards, and lends her specialized expertise to the successful collaborative breeding program — right here in Nashville. During our visit, there were about half a dozen bundles of fluff tumbling around in the nurseries. And you can often watch bottle-feeding up close, like we did, from the observation deck windows.
What a magical experience!
Going inside the HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center at the Nashville Zoo isn’t a regular part of zoo admission, but super-exciting behind-the-scenes guided tours are available as part of the backstage zoo pass options. (The Nashville Zoo kindly extended a complimentary tour for us, so the scope of your backstage pass might differ a little.)
My little science-lover was in seventh heaven in the lab, which allows technicians to complete time-sensitive diagnoses in-house, rather than outsourcing.
The day we visited, the Veterinary Center had clouded leopards, Amazon tree frogs, and just-hatched lorikeets in the viewing area — they’ve since added binturongs (AKA bear cats), too. Of course, the animals vary depending on when you go, but the @NashZooVet Twitter feed lets you know what animals you can expect to see from the observation deck each day, so be sure to check it before heading over to the zoo.
Remember, viewing from the observation deck is always free, and included in zoo admission!
We already loved the Nashville Zoo — where else can you walk with kangaroos, ride a zip line, explore a historic mansion and gardens AND see amazing animals? — but the launch of the HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center has given us so many more reasons to head back again…and again and again. There are 365 different species represented at the Nashville Zoo, so you really won’t run out of awe-inspiring encounters anytime soon.
Visit the Nashville Zoo website for the latest information on exhibits, events, and admission.
You can also keep up with our family’s Franklin and Nashville adventures by following me on Instagram @oaxacaborn. Leave a comment letting me know you saw this post, and I’ll follow you back, too!
Happy summer adventuring!