Jackson Zoo in Mississippi is set to move after the board of directors for the Jackson Zoological Society accepted a recommendation for the facility to change locations.
A task force of Jacksons Zoological Society board members, local business leaders, city representatives and residents assessed a range of feasibility studies and ultimately recommended that Jackson Zoo move to a 10-hectare site in LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
The move is intended to address multiple issues facing the zoo including declining attendance, ageing infrastructure and budget cuts. Jackson Zoo received 185,000 visitors in 2003 but this had shrunk to barely 100,000 by 2017.
“The top priority of the Jackson Zoological Society has been, and always will be, giving all visitors a world-class zoo experience,” said board president Jeffrey Graves.
“This decision is the culmination of decades of research and discussion but is just the beginning of a new and improved phase of the zoo. It will be a long process, but we now have an opportunity to give the city and surrounding residents and visitors the benefit of being a viable player in the world’s wildlife education and conservation movement.”
According to the zoo, a new build at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park would allow it to build larger habitats and expand its animal collection to include species such as lions and sloths. It would also allow the organisation to build a larger walk-through aviary.
More up-to-date site planning would also make it possible for animal and human interaction with the introduction of giraffe feedings.
In addition, the closer proximity to other educational attractions in the LeFleur’s Museum District would allow opportunities for greater collaboration between museum staffs.
The next phase of the process will be raising funds for a site development study, where a team of experts and consultants will evaluate the current terrain and utility infrastructure of the proposed location. At the conclusion of the study, the team will then devise a development plan, including any necessary alterations or repairs, architectural and engineering designs, and timeline for transition.
“We value our relationship and long history with the city of Jackson and appreciate the leadership’s ongoing efforts on behalf of the zoo animals and area residents,” said Beth Poff, executive director of Jackson Zoo.
“We are completely confident that as we continue to work together, there will be a positive outcome for all involved. Along with a real opportunity to give this state the great zoo it deserves, we are very proud to remain in Jackson, the Capitol City.”