NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – You may need to plan ahead before your next trip to the Nashville Zoo as construction for a new massive parking garage begins.

The Nashville Zoo will be expanding in the near future. To do that, they will need additional parking.

Right now, the zoo sits on 188 acres, and they have only developed about half of that. As they expand, they will be able to increase the capacity of the zoo, hence, the need for the two-story parking garage.

Currently, there are 1,851 parking spaces. The new garage will increase that to 2,900.

However, as construction begins, the zoo says they will lose half of their current parking spaces. 

That means that they will have to limit the number of people in the park at a given time. But they got a lot of practice at that during COVID.

“We’re going to have to go to a ‘time ticketing’ program,” explained Jim Bartoo, Nashville Zoo Marketing, and Public Relations Director. “Anybody that has been to the zoo during the past two years during our COVID program, they were familiar with the timed entry program. We know how to work it. We’re convinced that we are going to be able to do this.”

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But during the construction, they plan to add a parking and shuttle system at the rear of the zoo to restore the original amount of spaces until the garage is complete. And the City of Nashville is helping out with the garage because it realizes the importance of the zoo.

“The city was very generous to help us cover the cost of this parking lot,” Bartoo said. “So, we want to make sure the city is acknowledged for their work in helping us expand.”

And they say it is going to be first class.

“It includes a nature walk into Entry Village that will include some flowing water, and a lot of trees, and lots of botanicals along the way,” Bartoo pointed out. “So, people are going to be thrilled when it’s done.”

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The zoo has always had a parking fee added to the price of admission, which is $8. But they say that if you attend the zoo without parking a car, you can get that refunded.