This week's Memphis Flyer cover story asks and answers 20 questions for 2009. Here's numero dos, written by Shara Clark and illustrated by Regis Lawson:
2. Will the Memphis Zoo avoid controversy?
Not likely. In February 2008, the zoo managed to anger quite a few people by cutting down four acres of trees in its portion of the old-growth forest to make room for the new "Teton Trek" exhibit, slated for completion this year.
Though zoo officials have agreed to be more open to the public with future plans and have said repeatedly that its remaining 17 acres of old-growth forest will be used for a "low-impact" boardwalk exhibit, many local forest advocates don't trust them with the land.
When asked about the future of the remaining forest, zoo spokesperson Brian Carter said, "The forest will not be developed or touched at all until we are able to have all the plans put together."
The plans include an extensive survey and full inventory of plants, trees, and wildlife within the 17 acres. "I won't be able to say anything about any of those plans until that full survey is done," Carter said.
As long as the zoo retains that 17 acres of forest within its boundaries, there's a definite possibility for controversy in 2009.
Nice call, Memphis Flyer -- especially considering that the leaders of the Memphis Zoo still can't get their story straight after 11 months of trying.
If they aren't going to "touch" the 17 acres inside their fence, they need to promise to stop "cleanin' things up" until that "full survey" is available for public review.