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December 08, 2021

Where Every Family Matters

Rhino Tours at Nashville Zoo Include Touching, Petting & Scratching

A popular behind-the-scenes tour to meet Nashville Zoo’s white rhinoceros is now much more up-close and tactile. Guests participating in the Zoo’s Rise & Shine with Rhinos tour can now touch, pet and scratch these two-ton gentle giants.

As part of the Zoo’s Backstage Pass program, the Rise & Shine with Rhinos tour is offered on weekends at 9:30 a.m. Up to 10 guests take a 75 minute guided tour to learn about rhino care, behavior and conservation. The tour offers access to areas not available to the general public.

“Being able to enter our rhino barn and put your hands on these beautiful animals is an experience that will last a lifetime,” said David Oehler, Vice-President of Nashville Zoo. “We believe guests taking this tour will walk away with a newfound appreciation for rhinos and help to save them from extinction.”

The Zoo’s crash (herd) of Southern while rhinoceros includes four females (Nandi, Kacie, Norma, and Modwani) and one male (TC). Keepers are encouraging breeding as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan to help ensure a genetically diverse captive population.

While the Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) is the least endangered of the living rhino species, they are listed as near threatened due to habitat loss and illegal poaching. In South Africa alone, poachers kill three or more rhinos per day to feed the demand for rhino horns on the black market. All proceeds from the Rise & Shine with Rhinos tour will help to fund rangers who protect wild rhinos by establishing guard posts, developing rapid response teams, and supporting intelligence networks. This work is making significant progress in fighting poachers.

The Rise & Shine with Rhinos tours are $170 for Nashville Zoo members and $190 for non-members and includes admission to the Zoo. No children under 12 years old are permitted on the tour, and each child up to age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Nashville Zoo offers a variety of experiences through our Backstage Pass program including encounters with giraffes, okapi, sloths, clouded leopards and a tour of the Zoo's Veterinary Center. These tours are very popular and guests are encouraged to make reservations in advance by visiting www.nashvillezoo.org/backstage-pass-tours.

About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing and Entertainment Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 18-month-old Ezra.