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Are you planning a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee? Trying to decide if you should visit the Chattanooga Zoo while you are there? Keep reading to find it if it is worth the time and money. And get some tips to make the most of your time.
The Chattanooga Zoo is a small zoo. While it doesn’t have as many animals as some larger zoos, they do have a nice variety of them. Additionally, this zoo has some unique animals that you can’t see in a lot of zoos.
The zoo has some all time favorite animals, including giraffes, chimpanzees, a jaguar, a Komodo dragon, and meerkats.
Unfortunately, the Chattanooga Zoo doesn’t have some of the most common large zoo animals, like hippos, elephants, lions, and rhinos. This was kinda disappointing.
However, they make up for it by having so many lesser known animals on exhibit.
Their more unique residents include the giant anteater, a capybara, red pandas, a fennec fox, snow leopards, and Highland cattle.
The zoo also has several varieties of tamarins, which are small monkeys that are a lot of fun to watch.
My family had a blast watching the Pied Tamarins. We stood there for a good 20 minutes or more. They were so active and fun to watch! They chased each other around the exhibit constantly!
Logistics of Visiting the Chattanooga Zoo
The Chattanooga Zoo is open every day of the year, except Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, and New Year’s Day. It opens each day at 9 am and closes at 5 pm. The latest you can enter the zoo each day is 4:30 pm.
The price of the tickets varies depending on when you visit. Admission will cost you $12.95-16.95 for each adult and child age 13 and older. For children age 3-12, you will pay between $9.95-13.95. Kids under 3 are free. And lastly, senior citizens (age 65 and older) can get in for $10.95-12.95.
If you buy your tickets online in advance of your visit, you can save $2 per ticket.
For an extra charge, you can upgrade to an all experience package. In addition to your admission, this package will give you 3 vouchers that can be used for giraffe feedings, train rides, or carousel rides.
The carousel rides are $4 per person if you buy them individually. The train rides and giraffe feedings are $5 each.
Additionally, the zoo offers behind the scene experiences and tours for an additional charge. The behind the scenes experiences are only available for people age 7 and older. These experiences can give you an up close look at either the red panda, meerkat, Komodo dragon, cotton top tamarin, or giant anteater. These range in price from $75-$250 per person.
Parking at the Chattanooga Zoo is free.
The zoo is located at 301 North Holtzclaw Avenue.
Pros and Cons of the Zoo
As I said earlier, this is a very small zoo. This is both a benefit and a disadvantage.
The size allows you to easily get through it and see everything without taking up a lot of your time. You can see and do it all in less than two hours without having to rush. The downside, however, is that there is not a lot to see.
Another big advantage of the Chattanooga Zoo is that it doesn’t draw big crowds like some zoos do. This allows you to explore without having to jockey for position.
The lack of crowds is a huge plus when visiting with kids, especially little ones. You don’t have to worry about them getting lost or running into people. And it gives them space to have a little more fun and freedom as you tour the zoo.
Other than the lack of popular animals, the biggest negatives of the Chattanooga Zoo, at least for me, are the lack of show and the somewhat confusing layout of the zoo.
When I say “lack of show,” I mean they don’t really make any effort to hide things like maintenance and construction from the view of guests.
When we were there, they were working on some exhibits. There was nothing to separate this work from guests. The work was so close to the sidewalk that I felt like we were walking through a construction zone at times. This just left me with a bad impression.
I also found the layout of the zoo to be chaotic and haphazard. There were several times where we found ourselves at a dead end and had to back track. Additionally, there were a few times when we were confused about whether we had seen a certain area or not.
When we left, we weren’t completely sure if we had seen everything.
It just didn’t appear that there was a lot of advanced planning that went into the layout. It seemed like they just put exhibits wherever they have space whenever they expand.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Visit
Save yourself some money by buying tickets online prior to heading to the zoo. You can purchase them on the zoo’s website.
Additionally, if you have some flexibility on when you can go, pick a day when the tickets are on the cheaper side.
Definitely grab a map as you enter the zoo! This will help you navigate the disorganized layout and ensure you see all the different areas.
Because it won’t take a long time to go through the entire zoo, take your time. Allow your kids to linger at the exhibits of their favorite animals. Give them time to play in between areas.
If you have small children with you, spend some time at the petting zoo. This will give them a chance to interact with some gentle animals.
If you have time, try to catch one or more of the zookeeper chats during your visit. This will allow you to learn more about specific animals.
Definitely take time to watch the pied tamarins for a few minutes. They have a little exhibit, but it is worth your time to find them. They are so much fun to watch! You will not regret seeking them out.
Lastly, if you can afford it, consider booking one of the behind the scene experiences. While these are expensive, they do give you access to some of the animals that you wouldn’t otherwise get. And these experiences are limited to only 2 people at a time, so you can get some individual attention.
The Chattanooga Zoo is small, but offers a great opportunity to see some really unique animals without a ton of people crowding you. It is also much cheaper than a lot of bigger zoos. It is worth taking a few hours to visit if you will be in Chattanooga, especially if you have your kids with you.
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