What does the future hold for the Jackson Zoo? The facility lost its accreditation in September, but now, the zoo's director said they're bouncing back.
"We're just having a rally if you would around the West Jackson area, so I think I am as armed and ready as I can be with what I need to say at the end of the month, so I'm feeling pretty good about it," zoo director Beth Poff said.
Poff is referring to the appeal before the Association of Zoos and Aquariums on March 26.
"Truly the only issue that was still on the table was financial stability," Poff said.
Now, Poff said attendance and donations are up, and the city of Jackson is putting more funding into the zoo.
"You know, we had to seriously look at it," added Poff. "We were in financial trouble. Do we close? Do we move? Do we stay the same? Do we grow?" Poff said.
Even "Jungle" Jack Hanna lent a hand on Thursday night, with a fundraiser that brought another $40,000 to the facility.
"All the animals look outstanding here, plus the diversity of the animals here is tremendous," said Hanna. "Trust me. I go to a lot of zoos, probably more than anybody in this country. I do a lot of benefits for zoos across the country. And this zoo is a jewel for Mississippi. Let's put it that way."
Financial challenges, though, are only part of the picture. Some say the zoo's location only makes matters worse. It's in an area filled with dilapidated houses and rough streets.
"There's been a lot more conversation with the city as far as doing Capitol Street corridor work," added Poff. "There have been developers interested, looking around the neighborhood of West Jackson. There's a West Jackson Master Plan study going on."
Because of that, and the zoo's nearly hundred-year history, they plan to stay in West Jackson.
It's an endorsement shared by Hanna as well.
"You move the zoo, you're moving history. That's my personal opinion," Hanna said.
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