Today's Commercial Appeal has a fascinating article: Unusual spider may put Memphis on scientific map.
Two years ago, while Baker and two other researchers were in the zoo's 17 acres of old growth forest, an unusual spider with a body as shiny as black patent leather and bright red legs scurried across their path.
They captured the insect, and the research began. They're now compiling their work for submission to The Journal of Arachnology, a publication from the American Arachnological Society.
It's great to see the Memphis Zoo exploring the scientific value of the old growth forest of Overton Park. If our forest is a global hotspot for the purseweb spider, as the article implies, just imagine what other rare creatures could be thriving in those ancient shadows.
In February we lost four acres of this unique and irreplaceable habitat because the Memphis Zoo chose to clearcut new ground rather than redevelop outdated exhibits.
Over the summer, the Memphis Zoo has done extensive chainsaw clearing and other unnecessary "cleanup" work inside the 17 acres of fenced-off forest. The botanist who is currently doing a comprehensive plant survey of the Old Forest has not been permitted to enter the 17 acres.
Maybe the purseweb spider can teach the leaders of the Memphis Zoo to read the writing on their own walls.