Memphis is gaining an international reputation for its excellent zoo - recently named by 10Best readers as one of the top zoos in the country. The Memphis Zoo is large enough to prowl, but not so big as to be overwhelming. And visitors can get really close to the animals, thanks to the well-designed displays.
With a jam-packed schedule of events and exhibitions on the zoo's summer schedule - including the return of a popular stingray and shark experience, as well as daily animal feedings and keeper chats for kids - there's never been a better time to plan a visit for the whole family.
Stingray Bay includes a touch tank full of rays, if you dare — Photo courtesy of Memphis Zoo
A series of special events from May through November include some of the zoo's biggest fundraisers, including Zoo Brew, a Memorial Day weekend beer-tasting evening filled with live music and food sampling, as well as Zoo Boo, the Halloween-themed evenings for children in October that offer safe trick-or-treating and plenty of creatures of the night.
Through October 2014, the zoo will again host an interactive, hands-on experience for visitors - a huge stingray pool that features two species of rays as well as two species of sharks.
Located near the Teton Trek exhibit, Stingray Bay is a 17,000-gallon tank filled with friendly cownose and southern stingrays; the former move constantly, while the latter tend to snuggle in the sand when not feeding. This year, a number of new baby cownose rays will be swimming with their families.
Guests can buy a feeding cup for $2 and feed the rays. It's a weird feeling, for sure, putting your hand into the water while the ray nibbles up the food. Along with the rays, two species of shark are also in the tank: whitespotted bamboo sharks and bonnethead sharks.
Admission to Stingray Bay is $4 per person in addition to the regular zoo admission price, which is $3 for zoo members. The exhibit is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the last admission to the exhibit at 5:30 p.m.
If you plan to visit before the end of May or after school picks back up in August, then Monday through Wednesday is your best bet, as school groups generally visit on Thursdays and Fridays.