100 years and Counting: The Jackson Zoo
One of the oldest zoos in the country is located here, in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Jackson Zoo, which first opened in 1921, started by the Jackson Fire Department, consisted of the firemen’s pets. Their collection had been housed in the Central Fire Station in downtown Jackson but was later moved to the current location, Livingston Park, in West Jackson.
Jackson Zoo Media, Events, Promotions and Development Director EJ Rivers said, a century later, their staff is working to educate and preserve, teaching species survival while rehabbing and revamping a 100-year-old facility.
In August 2020, the City of Jackson Parks and Recreation Department reopened the zoo after closing in late 2019. The zoo recently received its relicensing from the USDA for the next three years.
Open Thursday-Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm, Rivers said the zoo’s limited hours are a product of necessity – and demand.
“We are not at full operation, but I’m upfront with guests,” she said. “Our challenges are different from bigger, newer zoos, and people understand. But we reopened because teachers and parents said, ‘Please give us a place to bring our kids.’”
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, zookeepers and park workers are in maintenance mode.
“We’re trying to recover from COVID-19, and we’re still doing repairs, much of which can’t be seen, like water lines under exhibits or rehabbing animal’s ‘backstage’ spaces)”.
Rivers said the zoo hopes it can reopen five or six days a week in the spring.
The zoo’s merry-go-round runs every day the zoo is open for an additional charge. The train, owned by an outside vendor, is not in operation. “Blame COVID and circumstances out of our control,” Rivers said.
This weekend, the zoo hosts “I Spy Halloween” on Sunday from Noon- 4 pm.
Zookeepers are ready with a Scary Scavenger Hunt; the Endangered Species Carousel is spooked out; the Haunted Cavern and Labyrinth are prepared; the playlist is made for the Boogie Bash Dance Party, and the Jelly Bean Jackpot nets the winner a big prize.
When purchased or reserved online at jacksonzoo.org/shop, each adult ticket gives up to four (4) “children under 12 years old” free admissions courtesy of the Credit Unions of Mississippi and City of Jackson Parks and Recreation while supplies last.
“I Spy Halloween” is sponsored by Trick or Treat Row for candy from Century First Federal Credit Union, CommFirst Federal Credit Union, Eagle Express Federal Credit Union, Jackson Area Federal Credit Union, Keesler Federal Credit Union, Members Exchange, Rivertrust Federal Credit Union, and Statewide Federal Credit Union.
Rivers said, “I couldn’t do it without them.”
WATCH Rivers on My City TV