City of Jackson wrapping up negotiations with new zoo management

Published: Oct. 29, 2019 at 7:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson’s mayor says we are days away from a deal being worked out with new managers of the zoo.

In the meantime, city leaders want a backup plan when it comes to the future of the zoo and their ability to keep it operating.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba says negotiations are wrapping up with Zooceanarium, the best bid it received to operate the zoo.

It could be as soon as the next meeting that the council sees the contract.

"We are ready to present it before the council, and once we present it before the council Zooceanarium will do a presentation that demonstrates their capabilities, what their successes have been not only in St. Louis but in Dubai, their successes all around the world," said Mayor Lumumba.

Zooceanarium is currently awaiting approval from the USDA for a license to exhibit animals.

Jackson city leaders voted Tuesday three to two to apply to the USDA for their own license.

The former Jackson Zoological Society previously had ownership of the animals at the zoo.

The City of Jackson went to court and gained ownership of the animals in a settlement.

“This is one part proactive, one part protective to make certain that as we go forward at any moment in time that we want to choose another operator 10 years down the line. The city has its operations license, its own exhibitors license,” added Lumumba.

The zoo in Ward 5 Councilman Charles Tillman’s district. He voted to apply for the USDA license.

“We might not ever per se, as Jackson needs that certificate or license so to speak. But just in case that somebody pulls out or whatever a contract runs out we will have an ongoing license,” said Tillman.

The city plans to hold a news conference about Zooceanarium Monday.

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