JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The city of Jackson can now open the zoo on a permanent basis, after receiving its official exhibitor’s license from the USDA.
“USDA did a virtual walk-through last week,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. “It’s approved 100 percent.”
The license was required for the city to reopen the Jackson Zoological Park and show animals to the public.
Previously, the city was operating the park with a temporary license.
USDA’s decision to grant the permit was one of the last major hurdles in the city’s efforts to bring on ZoOceanarium Group, the firm tapped by the administration to take over park management.
The city has been in talks with the Dubai-based firm since 2019. However, the group had held off on signing the contract until Jackson had its permanent license in place.
“There’s no excuse not to move things forward,” he said.
Lumumba said his team was meeting with ZoOceanarium officials on October 1 to schedule a final walk-through of the zoo, but he was not sure when the contract would be signed.
Meanwhile, new zoo management could mean some new attractions at the century-old park.
As part of the new management agreement, ZoOceanarium Group is planning to bring in an African lion and a second giraffe.
However, those animals likely won’t be brought in until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
“It’s all COVID-related," Lumumba said. “They’ll be brought in when it’s acceptable and permissible for the animals travel.”
“It’s not only humans, but animals are susceptible to the virus and complications from travel, too.”
The city received its license last week. The park reopened to the public in August, after the city received a temporary exhibitor’s permit.