Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Nashville, United States

Nashville Zoo at Grassmere


The Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is a zoological garden and historic plantation farmhouse located 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of Downtown Nashville. As of 2014, the zoo was middle Tennessee's top paid attraction and contained 6,230 individual animals, encompassing 339 species. The zoo's site is approximately 188 acres (76 ha) in size. It is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Nashville Zoo is located on property that was once a 300-acre slave holding farm owned by Michael and Elizabeth Dunn. The Dunn's original home, built in 1810 through slave labor, is still located on the property. Margaret and Elise Croft, the great-great granddaughters of Michael Dunn, the original owner, were the last of the family to live at this location. In 1989, archaeologists evaluating the property for its archaeological resources discovered an unmarked cemetery fairly close to Grassmere's entrance off of Nolensville Road. When construction for the zoo began in 1997, this graveyard was not disturbed. It was only in 2013 when a newer entry plaza was planned did the zoo petition to have the bodies exhumed and their remains moved closer to the historic Dunn house by the state archaeologist. This exhumation revealed 9 to 30 African-Americans who had been buried there.

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