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Pond, zoo work continues during closure

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Juno Ogle Photo Jim Burress, director of the city of Roswell Parks and Recreation Department, talks Friday morning about rebuilding the retaining wall of the pond.

There’s no blueprint for renovating a pond, but the Roswell Parks and Recreation Department is doing just that after draining most of the Spring River Zoo pond earlier this year.

The pond has not completely drained, as a high water table keeps a trickle flowing back in, Jim Burress, parks and recreation director, said Friday during a tour of the pond and zoo.

With the help of a long-armed excavator from Chaves County, the department is now digging out 50 years of silt and debris from the bottom of the pond, digging it deeper in some areas and reshaping the angles of the banks. The Roswell Street Department has also provided a grader to smooth out areas around the pond for easier and safer access for the equipment.

About 15 feet of bank will be added to the south side of the pond, with the same amount excavated on the opposite side. The collapsing retaining wall on the south side will be rebuilt, as will a waterfall on that side.

New areas of grass and trees will be planted as the work finishes and picnic tables and other amenities added as the work is completed, likely in October, Burress said.

There’s more work going on inside the zoo, as well, while it is closed to the public due to state health orders during the pandemic.

At the new mountain lion exhibit, some of the trusses for the roof have gone up on the brick structure that will house the big cats. The structure will include an educational area for the public.

Cages for the animals are being welded now and when completed, will be lifted into the structure by crane.

One end of the building will be used as an enrichment area for when the mountain lions get a checkup by a veterinarian. Rather than being sedated and taken to a vet, the lions or other animals can be brought there where blood can be drawn or their teeth checked, for example.

A large window will allow zoo visitors to watch while a zookeeper explains the procedure.

Elsewhere in the zoo, a room is under construction where birthday parties can be held. A new door was installed and a ramp to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act is planned.

More shade structures for the public, some with misters, are also planned throughout the zoo’s exhibits, as well, Burress said.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.