City and Zoo leaders work on plans to reopen facility

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Jackson Zoo said the new zoo operations contract is in its final stages with the City of Jackson and members of zoOceanarium Group. They recently met for an informal pre-planning session.

Although no official decisions or timeline can be set without a contract in place with the city, the groups agreed that a revitalization project needed all the prep time available.

Officials looked at how to combine the zoo’s current strengths and needs with zoOceanarium Group’s global attraction and guest experience expertise. They discussed that the initial phase of the Jackson Zoo modernization needs to focus on the fundamentals of a successful modern zoo:

  • enhancing wildlife care and habitats with additional training from zoOceanarium Group’s animal care team;
  • prioritizing and setting timelines for park changes and additions after park re-opening with USDA approval (NOTE: The Jackson Zoological Society’s USDA exhibitor’s license ended on September 30th, 2019, and the zoo temporarily closed to the public. Since then, Jackson Zoo staff, City of Jackson officials, and the zoOceanarium Group have applied for the new USDA license, but are waiting to set an inspection date until the city has completed the repairs to areas of concern);
  • re-establishing stable funding for improvements, animal acquisitions, educational programs, community events, and guest experiences;
  • strengthening and forging new relationships with community leadership, residents, and visitors to help develop a new five year plan;  
  • and creating a better balance between the park and community’s history and the needs of our wildlife, families, and educators. 

zoOceanarium hopes to join Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and members of the Jackson City Council for the official signing of the contract within the coming weeks.

The Jackson Zoo closed in September.

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