JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The controversy surrounding the Jackson Zoo has left many questions, including when will it reopen and how soon before the new management company, ZoOceanarium, takes over. In an Exclusive one-on-one with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, he gives a progress report on the zoo and it’s future in Jackson.
We could have some answers as soon as Monday on the new management company for the Jackson Zoo.
Mayor Lumumba said, "Representatives for ZoOceanarium will actually be here on Monday. It is at that time that we anticipate concluding the contract negotiations.”
Because negotiations are still underway, there is no price tag available for the new contract.
The Mayor said, “They’re coming to town so that we can finish that up, and we’re really eagerly anticipating that.”
Mayor Lumumba also discussed how soon ZoOceanarium could get it's license. He says it is all tied to why the zoo closed.
Mayor Lumumba said, “The reason that the zoo was closed is so that we can make the necessary repairs inside the zoo. USDA will come in and first assess what needs to be repaired. We already have a pretty good idea of what that is. Once they do that, then the repairs will commence and they will do their final inspection and we anticipate the license at that point.”
There is a settlement with the Jackson Zoological Society, one Mayor Lumumba says was a difficult but necessary decision.
“The city will be able to protect its collection, that was our primary concern is making certain that we had a collection to exhibit to the public and so now that we have protected that, the case will be dismissed,” the mayor explained.
The mayor says the zoo is poised for change.
Mayor Lumumba said, “The zoo is poised for a new opportunity, new marketing strategies, new management.”
There is no date on when the front gates of the zoo will reopen.
“The zoo will be closed as long as it takes to make those repairs. Our Public Works Department will be working aggressively to make that happen,” said Mayor Lumumba.
The location of the zoo has been an issue, the Mayor says the location has not kept away crowds for big events.
Mayor Lumumba said, “The zoo has been there for more than a hundred years right. It’s seen good times and yes we acknowledge that the location needs some work right, and we’ve committed to doing that, but we also have to look at the other factors that contribute to the overall success of the zoo as well.”