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Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear Now Open

Nashville Zoo’s Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear exhibit is now open. This exhibit is graciously funded by 12 significant donors. The addition of Andean bears will mark the first time this species has ever been housed at Nashville Zoo at Grassmere in its entire 21-year history.

“This is the largest project that has been done in the history of the Zoo, ” said Rick Schwartz, Nashville Zoo President and CEO.  “It’s a fantastic exhibit and a lot of thought has gone into it. It’s a true immersion exhibit.”

From the moment guests step into this new biome, they are immersed in an authentic, indigenous village with a Peruvian lodge containing interactive educational displays and spectacular observation points to gaze at these South American bears. Visitors get unobstructed views of the bears from several areas, including one underwater. At other points, guests have the opportunity to observe from a viewing deck and watch behavioral training presentations.

In addition to Andean bears, 10 other species now call Expedition Peru home, including the southern pudu, cotton-top tamarin, guinea pigs, green basilisk, white-blotched river stingray, ocellate river stingray, yellow-spotted Amazon turtle, red-head cichlid, banded leporinus and jaguar cichlid.

“I am so proud of this exhibit,” Schwartz said. “The amount of detail that we’ve put into this exhibit is extraordinary. I think guests will have to take multiple visits just to see the details almost on every corner.”

The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is South America’s only bear species. Often referred to as the spectacled bear, this omnivorous species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Nashville Zoo houses three of only 34 Andean bears currently residing in 20 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions across the United States.

Nashville Zoo is a strategic partner of the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance to address the remaining wild population of Andean bears. The Zoo financially supports Andean bear conservation through the Wildlife Conservation Network and cotton-top tamarin conservation through Proyecto Titi.

We also participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Andean bears, cotton-top tamarins, and white-blotched river stingrays to ensure the genetic diversity in these species’ captive populations.

The generous donors that helped fund Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear are as follows: Stephanie and John Ingram; The Frist Foundation; Dugas Family Foundation; Speer Foundation; Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation; Andrienne and Richard McRae III & the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation; Cynthia and David Arnholt; Barbara and Rick Turner Jr.; Kim, Charles and Charlie Crews; Julie and Breck Walker; Kent, Nora and Emme Kirby; and Sally and Neely Coble III. Thank you to Middle Tennessee Honda Dealers for sponsoring the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

To learn more about the Zoo’s newest Andean bear exhibit, visit www.nashvillezoo.org/bear.