Plan Your Best Day at Zoo Knoxville: Things to Know

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If you’re looking for a day of fun in Knoxville, Tennessee, Zoo Knoxville is WILDly fun! You can spend a whole day here and not run out of things to do. In this guide to Knoxville, TN’s zoo, one local mom shares her favorite exhibits, plus tips and things to remember so you’ll have the best visit with your family. Use our guide to plan your trip to the zoo!

About Zoo Knoxville

The 53-acre zoo is in East Knoxville, about 13 minutes from Downtown Knoxville. There are around 1,200 animals to see and learn about throughout the zoo. When we moved to Knoxville, I took my kids to the zoo and was immediately sold on a membership simply because of how much there was to do. We visit several times a month and never tire of spending time here. 

Zoo Knoxville, TN

Stay Near Zoo Knoxville

Coming from out of town? Book a vacation rental or hotel near Zoo Knoxville. Use the map below with options nearby to find the perfect place to stay.

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Zoo Knoxville Tips & Things to Know

Before you visit, here are a few tips from a frequent Zoo Knoxville visitor: 

Hours, Rules & Ticket Information: 

  • Zoo Knoxville Hours: Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. 
  • Parking is $5 and free for members. Memberships pay off!
  • You can bring your own food & drinks to the zoo but glass containers and straws are not allowed. Or you can enjoy one of their 5 eateries if you don’t want to pack a lunch.
  • Ticket Pricing:
    • Members: Free
    • Adults: $26.95
    • Children (3-12): $21.95
    • Seniors ages 65+: $21.95
    • College Student with ID: $21.95
    • Children 2 and under: Free
    • Active Military & Veterans: Free
  • Firearms are not permitted on Zoo Knoxville grounds.
  • Zoo Knoxville is a vape and smoke-free campus.

Accesibility Feautures in the zoo:

  • Wheelchair, strollers, and scooter rentals start at $12+
  • Sensory bags are located at the front desk
  • Quiet Zones (Located at the Barn Loft & Painted Dog areas)
  • Headphone Zones (Located at the Kid’s Cove, Wee Play Adventure & Safari Splash)
  • There are bathrooms throughout the park with changing stations.

Things to See at the Knoxville Zoo

Now that we’ve covered hours, rules, accessibility, and parking, let’s jump into all the exhibits & fun things to do at Zoo Knoxville. 

What Animals are at Zoo Knoxville? 

Zoo Knoxville has 12 habitats you can enjoy across the zoo. Grab a map of the zoo when you purchase tickets and plan a route that works for you. 

Habitats include: 

The ARC (Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Campus): This newer building is so neat to explore as it features Joe the sloth, lots of turtles, gigantic snakes (even a Reticulated Python), crocodiles, and more! This exhibit is mostly indoors but you can view the turtles outside as well. 

Black Bear Falls: At Black Bear Falls, you can watch the North American Black Bears sleep, play, and interact. There is a large tunnel (resembling a bear cave) that will take you right up to their enclosure so you can get the best view of what they’re up to. This is an indoor/outdoor exhibit.

Boyd Family Asian Trek: Here you can laugh as beloved Georgie the Gibbons monkey swings in his enclosure, watch the Malayan Tigers take their afternoon nap, and admire the many Langurs swinging across their enclosure. 

Chimp Ridge: This habitat is solely for the beautiful & majestic Chimpanzees. This enclosure is large and contains several viewing areas depending on where the chimps are hanging out for the day. 

Clayton Family Kid’s Cove: This habitat contains many farm animals that you would find on a farm. The Kids Cove contains turkeys, raccoons, goats, beavers, guinea hogs, and more. This habitat also includes a small wading stream (best for toddlers), the Clayton Cabin playground, a large sandbox, and animal interactions. 

Clayton Otter Creek: This habitat might be my favorite. You can watch the North American River Otters splash and play in their large water habitat. They are very active and are a popular exhibit at Zoo Knoxville. 

Gorilla Valley: Gorilla Valley is another large habitat that houses beautiful Western Lowland Gorillas. They like to hang out in their indoor enclosure but often run through their large open-air enclosure.

Grasslands Africa: A safari in Knoxville? Yes! You can see elephants, giraffes, white rhinos, and zebras! This area is all open-air and the animals are usually easily visible. 

Pilot Flying J Wee Play Adventure: Here your preschool & elementary-aged kiddos can play on the indoor playground surrounded by a Komodo dragon, lizards, snakes, and more. This area features a sandbox, slide, and baby playspace. 

The Boyd Family Red Panda Village: This habitat features fuzzy and sleepy red pandas. They like to sleep high up in their nets in the trees so be sure to look up when you visit. 

Tiger Forest: This habitat is solely for the Malayan Tigers. Zoo Knoxville has a breeding facility for the endangered Malayan tigers.

Valley of The Kings: Here you can see the African Lions and Baboons. They are in two separate enclosures located near the Clayton Safari Splash Pad. 

Clayton Safari Splash Pad

During the spring & summer months, you can cool off after a long walk around the zoo at Clayton Safari Splash Pad. This is included in your admission ticket so no need to pay extra! They are opening on May 17th, 2024 this year and typically stay open until Labor Day each year. This area offers a gift shop, changing areas, and picnic tables to sit and watch your kids splash. 

More Things to Do At Zoo Knoxville

Additional Fun Activities: 

  • Take a ride on the carousel located near the Clayton Family Kid’s Cove. Rides are $4 for visitors and $2 for annual pass holders.
  • Zip through the trees on the Soaring Eagle Zipline. This is a tandem zip ride. Single rides start at $13 per rider.
  • Take a spin on the Zoo Choo Train. Rides are $4 per ride.
  • They offer animal encounters (find the schedule on the Zoo Knoxville website).
  • Adult & child zoo camps available 
Tortoises at Zoo Knoxville

New & Notable in 2024

Planet Predator: This new exhibit will be available starting on May 1st, 2024, and will run until October 31st, 2024. You can see several prehistoric predators including an animatronic snake, dinosaur, and more. This is included with your admission. 

You can find a calendar of events, ticket information, and more on Zoo Knoxville’s website

We hope you have fun at Zoo Knoxville and would love to know what you loved most about the zoo!

Zoo Knoxville
3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive, Knoxville, TN 37914

Jordan Burchette
About the Author
Jordan Burchette is a freelance writer, homeschooling mom of two kids, and resident of beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee. She recently self-published her debut romance novel, Finding Love Again in Music City. In her spare time, she enjoys drinking coffee, adventuring in Knoxville, working out, and spending time with friends and family. Follow along with her on Instagram @thelifeofjordannoel.

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