Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We Love Animals and Zoos!

Our 2nd and last day in Nashville…what to do? We were worried about the heat as it was scheduled to be a very hot and humid day.  But we decided if we went to the zoo early enough in the morning, we’d avoid the heat and the crowds…

So off we went to the Zoo at Grassmere in Nashville Tennessee!  It opened at 9 AM and we were there…
The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a 200-acre zoo and historic plantation farmhouse located 6 miles southeast of downtown Nashville.  The Zoo was founded in 1996, as the result of a merger between two competing facilities, The Nashville Zoo and Grassmere Wildlife Park.   The property still maintains the original historic plantation house, called Grassmere or the Historic Croft Home.
Visitors to the zoo can tour the 19th-century historic house museum, its gardens and the associated Grassmere Historic Farm…

These 2 beauties are Hyacinth Macaws.  They are the largest parrots in the world, reaching a length of 3.3 feet.

Here’s Laurie, feeding a bevy of hungry Lorikeets.  This was about our first stop after starting our tour of the zoo and we were the first visitors who fed the birds.

Dawn Marie was smart… She took the photos while we feed the ravenous Lorikeets.  Take a good look at the photo.  What do you see?  Did you notice that #&*^%#*(^%#@ Lorikeet taking a bite out of my hand?  I made the mistake of trying to move the cup so another bird could have some nectar. 

That &*%#$@^#$ bird did draw blood too!  Laurie didn’t take this photo until we got home that night.  Sorry for the blurry photo!

We can’t recall the name of this tropical bird…but we certainly liked his ‘look’.  What a handsome bird!

I think that this was a SE Asian pheasant…fabulous feather pattern!

These are Red River Hogs…or Bush pigs.  Red River Hogs are from Africa, with most of them being found in the Guinean and Congolian forests. It’s rarely seen away from rainforests and generally prefers areas near rivers or swamps.
Red river hogs eat grasses, berries, roots, insects, mollusks, small vertebrates and carrion, and are capable of causing severe damage to farms. They usually live in herds of 6 to 20 members led by a dominant boar, with sows rearing three to six piglets at a time.  The boars can weigh up to 250 pounds.

We really liked the African Elephant exhibit!  The elephants had a very large savannah-like enclosure with pools, mud, grass and shade.  There was quite a bit of room for them to roam.
We’ve always been drawn to this largest of all land mammals.  A bull elephant can grow to 13 feet tall at the shoulders and they can weigh up to 13,200 pounds.   African elephant’s society is based on a social matriarchal community. The matriarch is the oldest female who leads a clan of 9 to 11 elephants. Only closely related females and their offspring are part of the zoo’s herd because males wander alone once they reach maturity.

Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant.  Giraffe’s have the longest tails of any land mammal. They can be up to 8 feet long.  A giraffe’s tongue is roughly 18 inches long.  Giraffe’s can grow to a height of up to 19 feet.  Males average of 17.4 feet and females average 14.1 feet.  The record height is 19.3 feet.  An average adult giraffe weighs about 1,763 pounds.
Up to nine subspecies of giraffe are recognized.  Giraffe subspecies are distinguished by their coat patterns.  For more about giraffes, the various subspecies, their habits, diet, etc., just go to
I don’t know if anyone ever watched “Meercat Manor” on TV… It was a story about meercat’s in the wild and how they survived…or didn’t.  This one is on look-out duty!
Adult meerkats are 10-14” long and weigh about 2 lbs.  Meerkats are highly social animals that live in "gangs" or "mobs" of up to 3 family groups in a matriarchal society. There may be as many as 30 individuals in a group with each group having one adult breeding pair.  Meercats are not cats nor are they related to cats.  They are really a small mongoose.  In the Zambian/Zimbabwean region, the meerkat is also known as the ‘sun angel’, as it’s believed to protect villages from the moon devil/werewolf which is believed to attack stray cattle or lone natives.

I ‘borrowed’ this photo from the zoo’s website.  We love Red Pandas but we didn’t get a good photo during our visit.   The red panda is also called the lesser panda and red cat-bear.  It’s a small mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China.  It’s more closely related to a weasel than it is to the Giant Pandas.  The Red Panda is about the size of a large housecat…

Laurie likes anything that resembles a horse…and Zebras are impressive and eye-catching either in a herd or up close.  These are Damara Zebras.  There are 3 species of zebra with several subspecies.  I learned that studies have shown that not only are the stripes effective in confusing predators, they are also effective in attracting fewer flies, including blood-sucking tsetse flies and horseflies!

This is a pair of Bobcats, one of which is white… Bobcats are a fairly common but rarely seen North American predator.  Males can be as large as 40 pounds with females as large as 34 pounds.  Bobcats keep on the move from three hours before sunset until about midnight.  Then they are on the move again from before dawn until about three hours after sunrise.  It will move from 2 to 7 miles along its habitual route every night.  With the exception of parts of the Midwest, Bobcats can be found throughout the USA.  Laurie and I actually saw one a few years back as we drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia…
This large bird with what looks like a ‘banana’ or ‘melon slice’ perched on his beak, is a Rhinoceros Hornbill.  These birds are found in SE Asia.  The purpose of the casque on his bill has yet to be determined.  This bird is about the size of a swan.  It eats fruit, insects, small reptiles, rodents and smaller birds.

This photo was taken looking down at the top of a Double-Wattled Cassowary.  They are native to New Guinea and Australia.  They can be as tall as 6 foot 6 inches and they can weigh as much as 129 lbs.  See that middle claw?  Cassowaries are very shy, but when provoked they are capable of inflicting injuries to dogs and people, although fatalities are extremely rare.  The nail on that middle toe can cause serious injury.  When we visited Australia, we noted signs warning us to avoid nesting Cassowary’s…as they can be aggressive.  We heard one ‘thumping’ in the jungle not far from us…and we fled!

This is a Baird's Tapir enjoying the cool waters of his pond on a hot day!  The tapir is the largest land mammal in Central America, reaching up to 6 feet 6 inches long, 3 feet 9 inches tall and weighing up to 880 lbs.
Tapirs are large browsing mammals, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile snout. They live in the jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Their closest relatives are the other odd-toed ungulates, including horses and rhinoceroses.

Who can resist taking a photo of Pink Flamingos?  There are six varieties of flamingos… This flock consists of American Flamingos.  The pink or reddish color of these flamingos comes from carotenoid proteins in their diet of animal and plant plankton.  I had to look it up…carotenoids are organic pigments that are found in plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae. 
Humans can be a bit strange...  Flamingos were considered by the Ancient Egyptians to be the living representation of the god Ra.  In Ancient Rome, Flamingo tongues were considered to be a delicacy.  Andean miners have killed flamingos for their fat, believed to be a cure for tuberculosis… And, then there are those lawn ornaments here in the USA!

We came across this handsome devil at the zoo’s Critter Encounters.  I don’t know whether this was Hermes or Blue, one of the 4-month old Dromedary Camels in residence and waiting to meet visitors. 
The dromedary camel is also called the Arabian camel or Indian Camel.  It is a large, even-toed ungulate with one hump on its back.   Males can reach 6 feet 6 inches at their shoulders and they can weigh as much as 1,300 lbs.  Camels were probably domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula about 4,000 years ago. 

This is another pheasant…also probably from SE Asia.  We couldn’t believe his striking plumage!  He looks like he’s wearing a fancy patchwork quilt…or a Technicolor dream coat…

This is a Saddlebill Stork.  They are from tropical Africa south of the Sahara where they live in open wetlands.  One of the largest storks, in the zoo they like to eat herring, mice, and a commercially prepared avian diet.  We actually saw him catch a mouse and consume it!
We didn’t or couldn’t take good photos of many of the other animals at the Nashville Zoo.  To get an idea of the variety of animals at the zoo, you can go to

Here’s a map of the Nashville Zoo.  There was a lot of walking as the exhibits are spread out nicely over the zoo’s 200 acres.  The good news was that a lot of the zoo’s paths were shaded from the summer sun!  We enjoyed our visit and finished our tour before the heat built up. 
The zoo is open 7 days a week and the cost of admission is $15.00 for adults, $13.00 for seniors and $10.00 for children over 2 years of age.  To find out more about the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, go to
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for joining us for a visit to the zoo!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Gorgeous pictures, Dave. It must have been a great morning. Sorry about that bite! Have a great day.Blessings...Mary

  2. Well now it could have been worse the Rainbow Lorikeets could have dive bombed you instead of biting you.