Proposed legislation would allow daytime beer and alcohol sales at Memphis Zoo

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( – For the first time next year, the Memphis Zoo could sell beer and alcohol during daytime hours, and the idea is pouring in plenty of opinions.

State lawmakers introduced the proposal Wednesday, arguing new revenue from booze sales helps the Memphis Zoo with new exhibits and renovations. Zoo leaders support the alcohol sales proposal, while opinion seemed to swing back and forth in favor or against with visitors Wednesday afternoon. Some believe it would help, others say it would hurt the overall family atmosphere.

“We have talked to the St. Louis Zoo who does sell, and it’s been tremendous for them,” Memphis Zoo Chief Marketing Officer Nick Harmeier said.

That’s why Memphis Zoo leaders support the proposal to help revamp the attraction’s older exhibits, such as the African belt and aquarium.

“We want to make this the best zoo in the world and to do that, we need more money to do it and this could be another line item we could add to that,” Harmeier said.

State senator Brian Kelsey officially introduced the Memphis Zoo related legislation Wednesday.

“All the new exhibits are fantastic, we just need a few more that need updating and hopefully this will help do the trick,” Sen. Kelsey said.

Right now, alcohol or beer at the Memphis Zoo is only served during nighttime fundraisers or special events. Wednesday afternoon, Memphis Zoo visitors offered a mixed reaction to the idea.

“I feel like it probably would not be good to see that here with you know all the traffic and the kids and families coming,” Cherry McGee said.

“Do you remember Chuck E. Cheese? When they sold beer, I took my kids a lot. When they stopped selling beer, we didn’t go quite as often,” Stephanie Charbonnet said.

The Tennessee legislature gathers next month, and Sen. Kelsey said he’s hopeful the legislation allowing beer and alcohol sales at the Memphis Zoo will be signed into law the governor in the spring.

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