Walt's Look Around: The little zoo that could - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: The little zoo that could

HATTIESBURG, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If you wanted to go to the zoo most folks would immediately think of the Jackson Zoo, or maybe the Memphis Zoo or Audubon Park in New Orleans. But Mississippi has another zoo.

Easter Sunday of the Hattiesburg Zoo turned 63 years-old. But it sure doesn't show its age, with new things being added there all the time.  

It is 12-and-a-half acres of escape right in the middle of Hattiesburg, on Hardy Street. It started out as just a city park until a civic club made an appropriate donation.

 

"The zoo actually started from a collection of local residents who brought squirrels and turtles and that sort of thing to the Kamper Park which was here before it, before the zoo," said Hattiesburg Convention Commission Executive Director Rick Taylor. "And the Lions Club decided that they would raise the money to purchase a Lion. And on Easter Sunday, 1950, the Hattiesburg Zoo opened here in Kamper Park."

Add to the lion some birds and monkeys and pretty soon you have a zoo. And that "add too" policy has been in effect from day one all the way to the present.

We just opened a flamingo exhibit on Saturday and added to our Petting Zoo collection, some African cattle, some zebu, so kids can get very hands on with the cows and with our goats and with our Tunis sheep, as well as looking at some of our more exotic animals, our tiger and jaguar, our taper and our crappie bears," said Taylor. "But on a hot day like today we hope they all end up in the splash pad, a place to cool off."

Hattiesburg has maintained their zoo as an act of the will over the years. It's unusual for a city no larger than Hattiesburg to have such an attraction.

"This is really very special," Taylor added. "It is very unusual for a city of our size to have a zoo. And as all zoos in all small cities that have had them over the years, our city wrestled with, ‘can we really afford to keep a zoo? to have a zoo? I am very pleased to say Hattiesburg decided yes. It's something we need to do, we need to keep. It's something our local residents can have and can enjoy every week if they want, or every once in a while. They don't have to go have to go all the way to the Audubon Zoo or elsewhere."

The little zoo that could, and still is after six decades, growing and staying as fresh as today.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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