The Memphis Zoo does not have a parking garage and therefore does not have adequate, appropriate parking on busy days. The lack of parking is especially problematic on weekends, holidays, and Tuesday afternoons.
The Zoo is on the edge of Overton Park. The people who use and love Overton Park would be very grateful if you would not park on the grass.
The paved Zoo parking lot fills quickly. Once the paved lot is full, the zoo parking
attendants will charge you ($5) and direct you to park on a grassy area of Overton
Park. There are lawsuits, marches, protests, and numerous articles in the newspaper about the ongoing controversy of the Zoo using
Overton Park for zoo parking. There is
plenty of free parking on the streets going through the park, and in the
Overton Park is not a parking lot. You will see signs that say “Save the Greensward, "Stop Hurting Overton Park,” "Get Off Our Lawn," and possibly others about grass, parking, and the park. If you park on the grass in Overton Park, you are parking on the Greensward. This grassy area is used by residents and visitors for picnics, play, and all kinds of outdoor activities.
The Memphis Zoo is located on the edge of Overton Park within walking distance of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Levitt Shell, Memphis College of Art, several playgrounds, a nine-hole golf course, and the 126 acre Old Forest Natural Area.
If you are in Memphis for a brief visit, you would easily spend a
day seeing the attractions in Overton Park, experience the variety of
the city, and enjoy most of the day outside.
You will have no trouble recognizing the entrance to the Memphis Zoo. There are huge animal shaped cookie cutter like statues at the entrance. Plus, you may hear the roar of the lions, the trumpet of elephants, and chattering of monkeys.
Wear your walking shoes. The Zoo covers 76 acres, and you will want to see it all from Teton Trek at one end, to the Aquarium and Once Upon a Farm at the other end.
If you do not want to walk your entire visit, the Zoo tram is convenient and economical. For $2.00, you can use the Zoo tram all day. Get on and off the tram as you wish and visit all areas of the zoo.
The zoo is well marked with numerous “road signs” pointing the way from one exhibit to the next.
When you enter you will receive a brochure with a map showing not only
exhibits, but the
first-aid station, food for purchase, restrooms, and tram stops. The zoo covers 76
acres and is large enough to cause you to lose your way if you are not
familiar with the layout of the grounds.
exhibit has signs describing the animals in the area with interesting
information about them. Enough information is provided to make it an
The Memphis Zoo has two Giant Pandas located within an area constructed specifically for them. The China exhibit is easy to locate as the red beams of the exhibit are visible over much of the area.
They are called Giant Pandas for a reason as the males may weigh up to 250 pounds. Pandas eat bamboo exclusively. The nutrient load of bamboo is rather low.
Therefore, an individual panda may eat as much as 30 to 45
pounds of bamboo a day.
The key to a great visit to the Zoo depends primarily on the
weather. Good weather always brings more
visitors to the zoo. During the summer when school is out, on holidays, weekends, and Tennessee Tuesdays after 2:00 PM the zoo will be more crowded as it is a popular place for both tourists and Memphis residents.
If you are visiting from outside of the USA, please know local schools are closed during late May, June, July, and early August, and the zoo will have more visitors during those months.
If you are a resident of Tennessee, please check the Zoo web site for more information about Tennessee Tuesdays.
Check on the feeding times for the animals, and if you or your children have favorites, try to arrive at the exhibit before feeding time begins. The zoo personnel will share information with the audience about the animals during feeding time.
The Memphis Zoo web site has a daily calendar of events listing the feeding times. Check the web site under events, then calendar. It will help you plan which areas to visit at feeding time.
The Cat House Cafe is not to be missed. Before the zoo constructed more animal-friendly enclosures for the lions and tigers, they lived in what was called the Carnivore House. This building is now a dining area with a food court.
One wall of the Cat House dining area is glass; on the other side of the glass wall is a monkey habitat. If the monkeys are outside, you can eat your lunch while watching the monkeys, and it will come as no surprise, the monkeys may watch you in return.
- Need to Know -
YeaMemphis Tip: The zoo has a capacity of 10,000 visitors. They rarely reach that number but it has happened. Tennessee Tuesdays can be very crowded as there is special pricing on some Tuesdays for Tennessee residents after 2:00