Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, July 5, 2016

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681,

Tennessee River Endangered Species Mural Celebration Set for Sunday in Knoxville

Freshwater Mussel Mural Stretching 230 Feet Part of National Endangered Species Mural Project

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— The Center for Biological Diversity on Sunday, July 10 will host a celebration for a new 230-foot mural on the Third Creek Greenway in Knoxville, the eighth in a national endangered species mural project highlighting threatened plants and animals around the country. The project aims to use art in public spaces to increase appreciation for regional biodiversity.

Knoxville mural
Mural by Roger Peet. Photo courtesy Center for Biological Diversity. This photo is available for media use.

The Knoxville mural features the pink mucket pearly mussel and Cumberlandian combshell, two endangered freshwater mussels from the Tennessee River. The expansive mural depicts the unique lifecycle of freshwater mussels, which use a lure to attract their host fish. The mussels shoot their fertilized eggs onto the fish’s gills to complete development. The mural displays this fascinating life history, including the Citico darter and blotchside logperch host fish.

The Center’s endangered species mural project is spearheaded by Portland, Ore., artist Roger Peet, who is teaming up with local artists to bring endangered species to public spaces around the country. The project’s goal is to promote a deep affinity for the natural world and the wild creatures that help define it, and features species that are special to their regions. Knoxville was selected as a site because the Tennessee River is a world hotspot for freshwater mussel diversity. Seventy percent of freshwater mussels are at risk of extinction due to water pollution and dams.

“We hope this gigantic and beautiful mural will raise awareness of how special the Tennessee River is for freshwater mussel diversity, and that it will inspire people to take action to improve the water quality of the river and safeguard the fascinating animals that call it home,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center.

What: The celebration will include music by Smiley and the Lovedawg, craft activities and refreshments.

Who: Mural artist Roger Peet, Center for Biological Diversity Senior Scientist Tierra Curry, University of Tennessee McClung Museum Curator of Malacology Gerry Dinkins, Knoxville Director of Parks and Recreation Joe Walsh, and local environmental organizations including Tennessee Clean Water Network, Conservation Fisheries and the Harvey Broome Chapter of the Sierra Club. The mural was painted by Peet, Merrilee Challis and Tricia Tripp, and was made possible by the logistical support of local attorney and activist Chris Irwin. It was funded in part by a grant from the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department.

When: Sunday, July 10, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: University of Tennessee Rugby Field; attendees should park at Tyson Park and walk south on the Third Creek Greenway to the mural wall. The mural is near the Agricultural Campus on a retaining wall close to the Alcoa Highway/Cumberland Avenue exit ramp, across the creek from University Commons, behind Walmart.

Endangered Species Mural Project Background
Previously installed murals include the mountain caribou in Sandpoint, Idaho; the Arctic grayling in Butte, Mont.; the monarch butterfly in Minneapolis; the jaguar in Tucson, Ariz.; and the blue whale and yellow-billed cuckoo in Los Angeles. Upcoming murals are planned of the hellbender salamander in Little Rock, Ark.; the white fringeless orchid in Berea, Ky., and the marbled murrelet seabird in Arcata, Calif.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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