Naked Mole-Rats Coming to Knoxville Zoo

Communications Deputy Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Naked Mole-Rats Coming to Knoxville Zoo

Posted: 03/21/2006
Don’t be embarrassed for Knoxville Zoo's newest nude residents. They are naturally-naked and they like it that way.

Naked mole-rats are burrowing into the Pilot Traveling Exhibit Center for a new exhibit opening March 31. Naked mole-rats get their name for having little or no hair on their body. They are very unusual burrowing rodents native to parts of East Africa. They are three to four inches long and weigh between 25 and 40 grams. A naked mole-rat’s teeth are outside of its mouth and can grow ten inches in one year.

Naked mole-rat colonies are made up of a queen and her court. They are the only mammal with a eusocial colony, much like honeybees and ants. A eusocial animal is one that lives in a large family group in which only a few members produce all the offspring.

The queen is in charge of assigning jobs and ensuring they are done correctly. Their special exhibit will have a museum feel featuring these secretive and nocturnal creatures. Kids will be able to burrow like naked mole-rats through tunnels in the Pilot Traveling Exhibit Center; play dress-a mole-rat; and even dress up themselves as royal court members for a photo opportunity. There will also be scheduled feedings and zoo chats so visitors can get an up-close and personal experience.

A bit more modest than their close relatives, chinchillas, guinea pigs and a prehensile-tailed porcupine will be unveiled as part of nature's cutest works of art.

This is the first time the zoo has ever exhibited naked mole-rats and a prehensile-tailed porcupine in its history. Come discover them for yourselves.Knoxville Zoo is located off exit 392 from Interstate 40 and is open every day except Christmas Day.

The zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education.

Currently, the zoo is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331 ext. 300.