Nashville Zoo Opens New Exhibit Featuring Rare Native Nashvillians

Visitors this weekend will be amongst the first to experience the Nashville Zoo’s newest exhibit, a three-acre enclosed habitat containing several Native Nashvillians.  Native Nashvillians, once plentiful in Davidson Country, have begun to be regarded as an endangered species in recent decades, with those on display at the Zoo being among some of the few remaining that could be found.

Native Nashville

“I’ve lived here for five years and never actually spotted a Native Nashvillian before” enthused Blake Parker, an artist from Oregon who relocated here for a change of scenery and marketplace.  “I’d love to see one up close; I hear they’re really friendly, unless you’re on the Interstate.”  Sarah Friedkin, a banker from Ohio who moved to Davidson County in 2003, is also thrilled about the new exhibit.  “I’ve only ever seen two in the wild before, so I’m of course excited, but even better is that this should be a great learning experience for my kids.  They’ve never heard someone correctly pronounce ‘Tusculum’ or ‘the superlative florist’ before, or listened to long-winded memories about when Hickory Hollow was cool and East Nashville was dangerous.  This’ll open up a whole new world to them!”

As people from other geographic areas continue a rapid, mass-migration to Nashville that has been occurring in recent years, anthropologists and pundits have noticed a stark dwindling of people born in Music City who willingly remain in the area into adulthood.  Wilma Stratton, an administrator at the Nashville Zoo, told reporters that they hope the new exhibit can be the beginning of efforts to redevelop the population of Native Nashvillians.  “By providing a familiar and protected environment, we hope that there will be a gradual resurgence in the number of Native Nashvillians.  So much of the species has fled to other areas in an effort to avoid dangerous and frightening habitat changes like overpriced cocktails, rising property taxes, and John Rich.  We believe that, in time, this exhibit will not only be a star attraction for the Zoo, but also ensure that you don’t have to drive to Murfreesboro or Hendersonville to see a real Nashvillian.”

Randy Parker, who oversaw construction of the new exhibit, says he’s quite proud of the care that went into designing the Nashvillians’ habitat.  “It was wonderful having so much space to work with, but it was still a real puzzle trying to fit in all the necessary elements that would put a Native Nashvillian at ease.  There’s all the usual habitat stuff you’d expect, like a small pond for bathing, lots of trees and rocks for lounging in the sun, et cetera.  But there’s also a replica Bar-B-Cutie off to one side so they have somewhere familiar to eat, and we put in a reading nook with a Davis-Kidd sign over it to help them feel more at home.  Also, we made sure that there were no visible signs of reliable public transportation visible from within the enclosure, just to avoid confusing the inhabitants.”

Stratton also noted that the expansiveness of the exhibit has already attracted unwanted attention from outside parties.  “With that much untouched space within the enclosure, we’ve naturally been approached by several real estate developers.  They all want to build luxury hotels and condos in the south-side of the exhibit, but we stand firm in our intention to only build strip clubs and Christian book publishing companies there, side by side, just like someone who grew up in Nashville would expect.”


Photo of habitat found at  Other photography submitted by Rhinestone photographer Greg Youszeck.

36 thoughts on “Nashville Zoo Opens New Exhibit Featuring Rare Native Nashvillians

  1. I am laughing so hard and no one around me understands why! Of course I’m in Clarksville so there ya go- I am a native so I will be watching over my shoulder for guys with nets!

  2. Pingback: Nashville Zoo Opens New Exhibit Featuring Rare Native Nashvillians – missing Nashville | Cornerstone Church Guide

  3. No one called me but I suppose I couldn’t do it anyway since I actually have a job. I still even have my email address !

  4. Cool! Fun time for all. Due to having AGE, they might want me very soon. I am native Nashville and many times “wonder where have all the natives gone…long time…….” I believe this could well qualify for a retirement center location along with all the “newbie” development. The last four digits of my drivers license ends with 1934. Oh yeah. I am as well.

  5. I’m a native Nashvillian. It would be nice to have a safe place to get away from all those “new to Nashville” people.

  6. I ventured to The Athens of the South/Nashville in 1966 for a continuation of my education, married a Native, and permanently relocated as he was remaining a Native Nashvillian. My Native has aged and is not a part of the daily exhibit but can be viewed on the streets of downtown near the courthouse and is easily recognized as a part of the rare sub-species of bushy white haired attorney branch of Native Nashvillians. I cannot affirm the validity of this statement now but Nashville used to have more attorneys per capita than any city in the U.S.A. except Washington D.C. If you wish to have this sub-species as a part of the zoo exhibit, you will need to provide an area large enough for him to ride his tractor on while he is viewed on weekends and holidays only… or just lurk near the courthouse looking for a bushy white haired blue tooth wearing, bag and paper carrying sub species trying to finish work and get to the barber. LOL

  7. Oh, at Christmas do you think they’ll install the Harvey’s Nativity Scene like Nashville had at the Parthenon?

  8. Clever. Pity the habitat is so late coming–you might have transferred the block of Hillsboro Village that was torn down to provide room for Jenny’s ice cream. One point: don’t the infant offspring being jogged and cycled around East Nashville and Sylvan Park qualify as Natives? What should be done for them?

    • Why add the Opryland ride only to have to take it away. Save that space for a replica of fair park. The “Harvey Nativity Scene”, whew, some of us go way back. That was when we navigated through Centennial to witness the Christmas spectacle, replaced by Opryland before they started charging us to park. So many memories. Great article.

  9. I grew up in East Nashville when East Nashville was not a popular place to live and it hurts my heart to see them tearing down beautiful old homes and put in four in its spot all crammed together they are just ruining beautiful old neighborhoods. I would love to be in the exhibit just to get away from the new people moving inhere to Nashville. And why are they even moving it anyway

  10. Well, this proves it. The Nashville I grew up in is now an unsustainable morass of clueless temps from out of town visiting the Zoo while their holding company collects rent from all the new influx with nowhere else to live. I guess the Zoo is expanding once more. I think, looking back, it all began to happen around the time the tornadoes and straight line winds hit our city in 1998 and 1999. Now, look at all those out-of-towners the wind blew in on us. Then, that giant mushroom erupted from the East Bank as a means for money to flow unobstructed down to Houston on the Profit River. To top it all off was the 2008 economic meltdown that rid us of all those ugly, old drug homes so that residents could begin to pay the interest on all those brand new border to border boxes. Pardon me while I enjoy my retirement and clean up garbage from my alleyway after the subcontractors sweep through.Thank the good Lord for progress.

  11. Proud to say I AM one. Born here in 1931! so yes I remember it ALL> when it was real country music, street cars, no TV, went barefoot all summer (except on Sunday) played outside until dark, than had to wash my feet in cold water. when you never felt unsafe, or locked doors. and downtown was covered with coal smog,respected your elders, law enforcement and teachers were the nearest thing to God. and when your Mother said “if you sass me I will slap the taste out of your mouth” so not being stupid I did not sass. Hard working Daddy. Would not change my life here for any place else I can think of. Instead of being Music City , we were known as The Athens of the South. Sorry most of you missed all of this.

  12. Nashville is a different creature….not one to fear, just different. LOVED this funny, well-written article….lots of great memories. My husband and I (both Natives) have bred 3 Natives, as well. We are 2nd generation in our church, our kids are 3rd. There is still “small town” charm and friendliness in the pockets. You just have to look for it. Keep Nashville Nice! Just wrote about it myself (in not so eloquent words)

  13. Hysterical! And I AM a native Nashville!! Should I report in to the zoo, and do a couple of shifts in the exhibit?

  14. Lol hickory hollow mall was the shit back before opry mills came. I had a bar-b-cutie write next to the neighborhood in Donelson. They have awesome barbeque pull pork. Outsiders just don’t know.

  15. This native still drinks a “coke,” no matter what it is…warshes his car with a hose pipe, and thinks “fan fair” started all this mess

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