Can Jackson Zoo budget for animal attrition? - - Jackson, MS

Can Jackson Zoo budget for animal attrition?

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Casper the 11-year-old male giraffe at the Jackson Zoo finds himself alone after his partner, 28-year-old Diamond, was put down on Tuesday. 

"She wasn't able to stand or eat. Of course we want a mate for Casper to enjoy spending time with," says Angela Harris, Jackson Zoo's Marketing and Communications Manager. 

But at what cost?  Earlier this year, the Jackson Zoo came close to losing accreditation due to financial instability. After a $1.4 million donation from the City of Jackson and numerous fund raisers, many of those problems have been overcome. But the death of zoo animals is tough to forecast, and to budget for.

"We can prepare for it to a certain extent, but at the same time with our budget and things like that, any cost that we have to do that's outside of the normal budget structure does have a significant impact on the Jackson Zoo," said Josh Friedel, Director of Major Gifts.  

There are more aging animals at the zoo: Jojo the chimp is 50. A female chimp named Belle is 45. They're still healthy, so the immediate concern is replacing Diamond.

If a female can be found within the network of accredited zoos, the process might be reasonably priced. But if the zoo has to look elsewhere, the cost of the animal alone might be $18,000. That doesn't include shipping and other related costs.  

"We're just like any other non-profit," said Friedel. "We need support of the community as a whole to make things happen." Friedel says. 

Help is coming in. 

"We signed the agreement with Jackson State in November," added Friedel". They're pledging $120,000 with the zoo, they're also doing a bunch of upgrades with the tiger exhibit, web cam."

In addition, a partnership has been forged with Mississippi State University, and a grant from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation will pay for amphitheater seating around the stage so summer concerts can be held. 

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