VOL. 124 | NO. 145 | Monday, July 27, 2009
Zoo President Gives Latest on Forest Trail
By Bill Dries
This fall, the Memphis Zoo is scheduled to open its latest attraction. Teton Trek will be a re-creation of a southwest U.S. ecosystem featuring grizzly bears, timber wolves, elks and cranes.
The exhibit is 80 percent complete, said zoo president and chief executive officer Dr. Charles Brady, who is also overseeing a new African themed hippo camp that will follow Teton Trek, more space for the zoo’s elephants and talks with Chinese zoologists about extending the Memphis stay of the zoo’s two pandas beyond 2013.
We talked with Brady about yet another project on the way, the Chickasaw Bluffs Trail through 17 acres of forest in Overton Park. It’s a very different project for the zoo that doesn’t include animals beyond those already in the forest. Critics argue it is an encroachment on the park’s forest.
Q: What’s happening with the trail at this point?
A: The trail is only in the planning stages and there’s a lot of public concern. So we have to go very carefully in step-wise fashion and then get input. And then we’ll go to the actual design of it. But we do know that we’re going to use deck-level construction. We do know that we are going to build the trail so we minimize damage to the forest and we also highlight the prominent features of the forest. And we’re going to be very strong on interpretation. So, we’re going to have a lot of graphics. We’re going to have a lot of learning points on the trail. We think it will be well received.
Q: You have hired an ecologist?
A: Right. He is looking at all of the trees. They do studies like nearest neighbor studies and a whole bunch of technical studies that tell them what type of forest it is, what state of succession it’s in. He’ll be able to help us with that. And that will go into our interpretation. Then he’ll also guide us as far as laying down the actual pathway so we will avoid prominent features and will find natural voids in the forest that we can move through – meander through, so to speak.
Q: Aren’t there trails now?
A: There happens to be an MLGW overhead line that runs through it. And we’ll probably try to capture that because that’s already on open part. Lick Creek runs through there. We’ll use that if we can. But there’s really no trails to really hike in that forest.