JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The future of the Jackson Zoo remains unclear as supporters of the zoo continue fighting to keep the doors open. This comes after the Jackson City Council discussed possibly closing the zoo amid budget cuts.

Councilman Vernon Hartley, Ward 5, said on paper, it looks like it would save money to close the zoo, but he argued that there is more to the story.

Hartley and other advocates said the Jackson Zoo is a historical landmark and a staple in the City of Jackson. He said the zoo provides jobs, which economically benefits the city.

It’s no secret that West Jackson struggles with blight, and Hartley fears that closing the zoo could mean another abandoned property in the area.

“You may not use the zoo, but it is important to you. You may not ride the trains, see the animals, you may not have been one of the 1,200 folks that showed up for the Ice Cream Safari when lines were backed up last month, but there are people using the zoo. It’s a vital part of the City of Jackson,” Hartley said.

The councilman and other advocates said the city should apply for grants and look for other ways to potentially fund the zoo before making a decision.

Hartley said if the Jackson Zoo does close, the city needs to put a real plan in place for care and relocation of the animals.