FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2009
Memphis Zoo Expands To 342 Acres
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Zoo is pleased to announce a bold new expansion plan that will nearly quadruple its size to a total of 342 acres.
"We couldn't be more thrilled about this tremendous opportunity," said Memphis Zoo director Chuck Brady. "We always like to think of ourselves as a hungry anaconda on the prowl, and Overton Park as a tasty newborn piglet that can't run very fast. Swallowing that piglet is a proud achievement for us."
As part of its expansion, the Memphis Zoo will install a 15-foot wall around the perimeter of the 342-acre Overton Park. The wall was designed by a German architectural firm.
"We were looking for a cosmopolitan yet timeless look, and we're very excited about implementing this design," said Zoo spokesmodel Brian Carter.
"This expansion has been part of our master plan for the past 20 years," Carter added, "and we want to reassure everyone that the Zoo has no immediate plans to limit public use of Overton Park, as long as you pay the admission fee."
Money-making park attractions, such as the Brooks Museum and the golf course, will remain open but will be enclosed in glass so that Zoo visitors can observe rare and endangered human subspecies (Fine Art Supporters and Golfers Who Walk) in their natural habitats.
The remainder of the park will be converted into exhibits and paved parking lots, with a hotel complex and shopping mall in the works. "The best part is that we can fund many of these projects with onsite resources," said Brady. "All we have to do is strip the old-growth timber and truck it to the sawmill, and we've had plenty of practice doing that."
The Zoo's future exhibit plans include:
- Zambezi River Hippo Camp. This exhibit will allow visitors to "experience daily life in a typical African village along the Zambezi River." Avoid the hungry jaws of hippos and crocs while fishing for your dinner! Fend off starvation as you learn how to slaughter and stew your own goat!
- Serengeti on the Greensward. Thrill to the sight of giraffes and antelopes roaming freely among the minivans! Watch the elephants and rhinos wallow in the mud of the new Greensward Marshlands!
- Chickasaw Bluffing. This amazing exhibit will take 17 acres of the old-growth ecosystem that typified the Mississippi River Valley until the mid-1800s and replace it with an exact concrete replica! Enjoy the shooting gallery featuring animatronic ivory-billed woodpeckers, Carolina parakeets, and passenger pigeons!
Construction of the new wall around Overton Park began two weeks ago and is nearly complete, the Zoo said.
"We did a private groundbreaking ceremony with champagne and Oysters Rockefeller and so forth," said Brady. "Over the years, we've realized that this kind of event is always a more pleasant experience for our major donors if they don't have to rub elbows with the hoi polloi."
The Zoo is soliciting public input on what color to paint the wall. "You can cast your vote at memphiszoo.org," said Carter. "We're offering three exciting choices: steel gray, slate gray, or gunmetal gray."
[Adapted from the original post: April 1, 2008.]