Imagine strolling through Overton Park to find a bear chained to a tree. You might think “this poor guy belongs in a zoo.” That’s how the Memphis Zoo began.
Back in the early 1900s, live sports mascots were in vogue. Naturally, the Memphis Turtles baseball team had, as a mascot, a bear… named Natch. When the team dissolved, they left Natch chained to a tree in Overton Park.
Soon, other sports teams and businesspeople began dumping mascots and exotic pets in Overton Park. Thankfully, Parks Commissioner Col. Robert Galloway successfully secured funding to house the homeless pets in a zoo.