JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - This weekend could be your last chance to visit the Jackson Zoo before it shuts down to make way for new management. It will close temporarily starting at the end of September.
During a special meeting on Thursday, city council members voted 4 to 2 for the zoo to be closed temporarily while mandatory repairs are made before Zooceanarium begins management.
“That transition plan will be less than three to six months, but we will need to make renovations to the zoo to insure that we’re able to have a new exhibit,” City of Jackson Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Robert Blaine told the council Thursday.
The shutdown could last for two months.
The Zoological Society and city leaders have been embroiled in a battle over the animals.
“I think we are sort of in a no man’s land right now,” said Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote. “I don’t know how this is gonna work out, but I think it has the potential to make city government look bad."
James Anderson with the City Attorney’s office says after Monday, Zoo employees will lose their benefits — but they will be kept-on as consultants to maintain and take care of the animals.
Anderson said that the Jackson Zoological Society, which manages the zoo, does not have enough money to take care of the animals or pay employees after September 30th.
A hearing is scheduled for Monday on the city’s restraining order to keep the animals from being moved.
Dave Wetzel will continue to serve as Interim Director.
The Zoo must be inspected and Zooceanarium must still obtain a license from the USDA before they can officially open the park.
WLBT reached out to the city for answers about the zoo’s future, the employees, who runs the zoo in the interim and if current employees will be added to new management. We have not gotten a response to those questions at this time.
We’ll continue to follow this developing story.