There are numerous ways humankind can help protect and preserve wild animals, such as building birdhouses, saran-wrapping the Serengeti, or pickling the Galapagos Islands. Explore alternate conservation options with today's Groupon: for $27, you get a one-year family membership to the Chattanooga Zoo (a $55 value).
The Chattanooga Zoo’s ongoing $12.5 million renovation works to spruce up dens for the zoo's residents and entices families to explore exhibits and view exotic critters. The one-year family membership includes free zoo admission for two adults and all children age 15 and under, a quarterly magazine, an electronic newsletter, a 10% gift-shop discount, and a handshake from the red panda who serves as the animal kingdom’s prime minister. Budding zoologists can watch pot-bellied pigs lumber around their enclosures, see jungle cats lounging in the sun, and watch chimpanzees discuss the housing market with prehensile tailed skinks. Check out the zoo’s online calendar for upcoming exhibits. Members also receive free or discounted admission to more than 150 zoos and aquariums nationwide, and get less judgmental looks from the meerkats who sit next to them on the train.
The Chattanooga Zoo opened its doors in 1937 with an exhibit containing two rhesus monkeys. Pretty soon, it had expanded to include bobcats, lions, and gators, until eventually becoming the venerable non-profit institution it is today, supporting conservation efforts for rare and endangered species around the world.
In the zoo's forest area, chimps, wildcats, and tortoises roam their habitats to the sound of churning water beneath two waterfalls. Red pandas scurry around a Himalayan habitat, and spider monkeys spin gossamer webs in the jungle area. Kids can play with goats and sheep at the petting zoo, or take a few revolutions on the carousel. With a refurbished frame from 1927, it spins guests on the backs of hand-carved seats fashioned after endangered animals such as snow leopards and low lying gorillas.
Behind the scenes, the zoo's caretakers work to rehabilitate hundreds of animals each year so that they can return to the wild. They also lead conservation efforts for rare species—including snow leopards, fennec foxes, and cotton-top tamarins—and educate thousands of students annually with interactive events catered to school curricula.