Families travel to Hattiesburg for expanded exhibit at zoo

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – In Hattiesburg, fans of the zoo are getting treated to a new experience. With mask restrictions being lifted, expect to see more families at the zoo this summer.

The Hattiesburg Zoo added two giraffes named Sue Ellen and Albera to its newly expanded exhibit called ‘Experience Africa.’

Rick Taylor, who is the executive director for the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, said the exhibit is part of an expansion that includes a new restaurant.

“We’ve got Lotas Catina which features African flavored food so now we have two restaurants within the Zoo to not only accommodate folks but immerse them in the experience of whatever continent they’re in,” said Taylor.

Some of the families who visited the zoo on Wednesday said they came to see new giraffes.

Nora Smith, a retired teacher who travelled from Arlington, Texas, said, “We came here to visit some relatives, and they took us to the Hattiesburg Zoo, and this place is something every family needs to take your children to, and it’s very reasonably priced.”

Jeremy Cumpton is the director of conservation education and wildlife at Hattiesburg Zoo. He said the new exhibit is three years in the making.

“It’s a huge exhibit that’s giving the public a whole new perspective of these animals. It’s one thing to read about them and see them on television, it’s another to be standing with it in front of you and seeing just how tall and majestic these creatures are it really is life. Changing it helps make that connection with nature that much stronger,” said Cumpton.

The executive director said the zoo plans to add more animals in the next few months.

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