Opening day for Memphis Zoo's new exhibit reinforces parking pro - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Opening day for Memphis Zoo's new exhibit reinforces parking problems

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

It's opening weekend for the Zambezi River exhibit at the Memphis Zoo, and that means the zoo was packed Friday.

Despite the rain, visitors who had been waiting years to see the hippo exhibit were given their chance. However, opening day was all happening in the midst of a new agreement to a compromise on overflow parking.

"I've been waiting and waiting and waiting," Sarah Bond said.

Despite the traffic and the rain, Bond was anxious to see the new exhibit.

"Rain or shine, we're going to be here for that, absolutely," zoo visitor Lenny Johnson said.

And now, with more people at the zoo this weekend, some concerns about more people parking on the Greensward are arising.

"As much as the zoo has been expanding, all of the exhibits over the past few years, they really need to add more parking," Bond said.

However, after a mediation process among the city, the zoo, and the Overton Park Conservancy, there could soon be 50-125 new parking spaces in the zoo's parking lot, and about 200 extra spots on North Parkway. That's 325 extra additional parking spaces. Many said that's a step in the right direction.

"The mayor had said that June 30 is his deadline or he'll make the decision. The council is anxious to get this behind us," Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad said.

It's good news for many who have been fighting to Save the Greensward.

"It's just something that has to be done as the zoo expands," Bond said.

However, according to zoo spokesperson Laura Doty, the agreement provides for the zoo to still use the Greensward for parking while mediation is still continuing.

"Overton Park is important. The zoo is important; let's just get it all together," zoo visitor Lenny Johnson said.

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