Fun on the Outside, Serious About Animals on the Inside
The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Campus (ARC) is now open at Zoo Knoxville! The ARC Center is an innovative model, combining animal habitats with education space, all designed to spark curiosity and inspire learning. Striking, museum-quality displays draw you in and encourage getting up close and personal with these most captivating of creatures. As the largest project in the zoo’s history, the ARC provides the home that the zoo’s amphibian and reptile friends deserve, showcases the zoo’s pioneering conservation work with these species and features revolutionary STEM education resources.
The ARC is the newest addition to the 53-acre Zoo Knoxville that houses more than 800 animals. Visit ZooKnoxville.org for a complete A-Z listing! As one of the premiere zoological experiences in the southeast, Zoo Knoxville is committed to sharing “wildly fun” experiences that educate and inspire with acres of creative habitats for animal lovers of all ages to explore. The zoo is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm with later hours on Thursdays until 8 pm.
New Home for Amphibians, Snakes & More
Each area was crafted with insights from the animals’ curators and keepers for their specific species and habitat. The ARC is divided into specific environments:
CONSERVATORY & VENOMOUS GALLERY where you can get close to new species of crocodiles, lizards, salamanders, turtles, frogs and snakes.
GREENHOUSE HABITAT that was built for showing off radiated tortoises and over a dozen endangered Asian turtle species.
WETLANDS AREA is an outdoor classroom complete with Marshland Boardwalk and large concrete “lily pads” perfect for hopping to interact with animals in marshes and bogs that are teaming with life.
The zoo’s North American River Otters will be moving to their new outdoor habitat located next to the ARC building – complete with a sandy beach, a bubbling stream and, of course, a pool to see the otters’ underwater antics.
Each area has informative placards with the animals’ name, what they eat, where their native habitat is, some interesting facts, and their Status in the Wild pertaining to whether their species is endangered or not.
New Space for Conservation Work
Zoo Knoxville is committed to being part of the solution to save species from extinction, both locally and globally.
As part of a collaborative Species Survival Plan for endangered animals, Zoo Knoxville joins one of the largest conservation movements on the planet, working to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population to ensure that animals are not lost to extinction.
Zoo Knoxville’s herpetology team is internationally acclaimed for its expertise and work to save critically endangered amphibians and reptiles. The use of the ARC acronym for the new campus is a reflection of the role Zoo Knoxville has as a modern day “ark” and the work being done to save animals from extinction. While Zoo Knoxville’s herpetology department is ranked among the top in the country, only 10% of the animals were on view in the former, aging facility.
As the first zoo to ever hatch the critically endangered northern spider tortoises, Zoo Knoxville has become a world leader in tortoise and turtle conservation. At the ARC Campus, you can see the newest hatchlings in the Turtle Hatchery nursery and watch zoo staff get them off to a healthy start.
New Area for Immersive Education
In addition to the many interactive displays, this $18 million project has created an unparalleled level of personal experience at Zoo Knoxville, with immersive educational elements focusing on core STEM concepts. The ARC has exciting new species such as Cuban crocodiles, a greenhouse where you can watch herpetologists at work, and outdoor wetlands that serve as an ecological study habitat where children can collect specimens and take them back to an Adventure Lab to study.
Both the indoor and outdoor classrooms are combined with multi-course STEM curriculum and programming that facilitates exploration and learning. These educational spaces and programs can be used for field trips, home school classes, scout troops, youth groups, zoo camps and overnight adventures.
These kinds of experiences inspire future conservationists to care about wild life and wild places. You might see anything from a rare tortoise hatching, to a venomous snake being fed right in front of you! Zoo Knoxville conducts critical research and conservation work with reptiles and amphibians that has global importance. The ARC opens up those spaces for all to see, allowing everyone to get closer than ever before to these compelling animals. For more information on the exciting new ARC Campus, visit ExploretheARC.com and ZooKnoxville.org.
Zoo After Hours
Thursday Evenings in September • 5 to 8 pm
Free for annual pass members or with a general admission ticket (same day re-entrance allowed). Featuring special menu items, a new food truck each week, and of course craft beer, wines and specialty cocktails, it’s a perfect way to wind down each week with friends and family. Always kid-friendly and always wildly fun! The Splash Pad is open all day and evening!