I visited this collection for the first time 22 July. For years this zoo has been famous for its African Elephants and its reptiles. Both were very much in evidence. I especially enjoyed a graphic discussing in detail every one of the African Elephants that have lived in Knoxville, commencing in 1963. The reptile collection deserves its reputation. Much of it is displayed in a facility opened decades ago, and, as other contributors have mentioned, many of the displays show their age with compromised viewing. There is also a newer series of reptile displays, near the front entrance, in a children's activity center. Many of the reptiles are endangered, maintained as part of breeding programs with which Knoxville has participated for many years. Among them are Chinese Alligators, Louisana Pine Snakes, Pan's Box Turtles, Burmese Mountain Tortoises, Bog Turtles, Roti Island Snake-neck Turtles, and Komodo Monitors. There are also quite a few species, such as the Mole King Snake and the Gongorosa Girdled Lizard, which, while secure in the wild, are only rarely exhibited in zoos. The bird collection is small, but there some impressive species such as White-naped Cranes, Hispaniolan Amazon Parrots, Southern Ground Hornbills, and Crested Seriemas. A great deal has been spent on exhibits for the "Charismatic Mega-Vertebrates" that many folks expect to see. Both Chimps and Gorillas have beautiful otudoor exhibits. As some contributors have mentioned, they were not visible in either enclosure at my visit, but both species could be seen further along the trails, behind glass. The Southwest African Lions were behind glass, beautfully displayed. Another famous feature of this zoo is a long-term breeding program for Nepalese Lesser Pandas, and there was a series of exhibits for them with excellent signage. Yellow-backed Duikers and Giant Peccaries were pleasant surprises. The biggest surprise was a display for native Big Brown Bats in the children's zoo's nocturnal area. Most zoos don't exhibit native US bats, because they hardly ever fly on display, choosing South American species instead. Beavers were unusually visible, as were Red Wolves, and the American Black Bears in their beautiful exhibit at the front entrance.
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