August 14, 2003
This zoo also features three white rhinos which are beautiful, rare animals. The Knoxville Zoo is recognized for its white rhino breeding program and is second only to the San Diego Wild Animal Park in white rhino births. Across from the white rhinos are the unusual red pandas. Even though they are in the panda family, they look more like a raccoon, sleeping up on the tree branches with their long tail hanging down.
A group of river otters swim playfully around in their large habitat. We visited during their feeding time. They were fed boiled eggs, shell and all. Many of the otters played with the eggs before eating them. The zoo offers a large reptile habitat with several species of turtles and tortoises, alligators, and the largest snake collection I think I have seen at a zoo. There we were introduced to the skink which is a reptile that looks like a wide snake with short, little legs.
The Stokely African Elephant Preserve is a wonderful area for the zoo’s largest inhabitants. The elephants love to roam around throughout the large area to play in the mud and spray themselves with water from one of their ponds. Mamie, one of the elephants, received national press attention for her talent of painting. It was discovered one day when a zookeeper set up some paints and paper to see what would happen. Next to the elephants is a large area where various African animals such as giraffes and gazelles cohabitate. Zebras and ostriches co-mingle in an area next to Meerkat Lookout. Chimps, gorillas, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, gibbons and other animals reside in the African Forest. You can also see the rare white tiger in this section of the zoo.
In front of the Kid’s Zoo is the Prairie Dog Pass. Some of the prairie dogs appear to think that they are watching the people instead of the people watching them. One guy seemed very inquisitive and kept checking out all the new people who came up to his exhibit. Other prairie dogs would pop in and out of their holes. In the back, the kids can crawl into a tunnel and pop their head up into a sky roof that is in the exhibit. They can see the prairie dogs closely and sometimes the prairie dogs sit on top of that sky light.
From journal Pigeon Forge: Hillbilly Vegas