CONSIDER THIS: Time to move the Jackson Zoo - - Jackson, MS

CONSIDER THIS: Time to move the Jackson Zoo

As we approach the end of 2017 and look towards the New Year, it is an appropriate time to consider what the future holds. Over the next few weeks, we will offer some ideas for opportunities in the coming year.

This week we focus on the Jackson Zoo. To say it is struggling is an understatement. What was once a thriving attraction is now a very old, deteriorating facility in need of millions and millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades.

Attendance is down, donations are down and the area around the zoo is full of blight and decay. It is not an area where families feel safe.

Each year the city invests nearly a million dollars in zoo operations, money that would be better used investing in a new location. One location that would make sense is the LeFleur’s Bluff area. It is already a family destination with the Children’s Museum, Natural Science Museum, Ag Museum and Sports Hall of Fame. Next year there will be a new addition when the Museum to Museum trail opens offering an appealing connection from the new downtown museums to the Lakeland Drive museums.

The city owns parks and rec property in the area that could be converted. And Smith-Wills Stadium, a facility the city is working to repurpose, could be incorporated in the zoo as a venue for concerts and other special events. Whether it is the LeFleur’s Bluff area or another location, it’s time to move the zoo.

Businesses are not going to invest in the current facility, but a plan for a new location could spark a successful capital campaign and much support. That needs to happen. If not, it’s time for the city to get out of the zoo business.

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