Jackson Parks and Recreation director ‘confident’ about zoo’s future

Jackson Zoological Park visitors' center.
Jackson Zoological Park visitors' center.(WLBT)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:08 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - More than two years after it reopened, city leaders say things at the Jackson Zoological Park are looking up.

“Two weeks ago, we had Zippity Zoo Day. We had over 600 visitors that came there. We brought the train back... We’re doing some clearing in Livingston Park. We just had a conversation with someone about bringing disc golf over there to bring more visitors. This week, we’re running a zoo art camp that has over 100 kids attending,” Parks and Recreation Director Ison Harris said.

[READ: Jackson Zoo struggles with attendance, staffing, lack of animals]

“I want to make sure that this is clearly stated that the zoo is not being stagnant,” he said.

Harris was questioned by several city council members on Tuesday about the zoo, and the city’s efforts to turn it around.

One councilman suggested the zoo start doing more marketing on social media sites, while Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes asked when the city will present a plan to change the direction of the zoo. Stokes also asked what the zoo is doing to bring schools back to the park.

“Over the years, the schools around the Delta used to come into the zoo,” he said. “Can we look at maybe calling them, asking them why they’re not coming?

The questions came as the council was preparing to vote on a roughly $1,300 contract for software used in the zoo’s email blasts. The council approved the item.

Harris said several schools had field trips at the zoo in the spring. He also said that other events are planned for the future, which he says will bring even more people to the park in west Jackson, including the Ice Cream Safari and a Zoo Blues event.

He told council members the city also had discussions with several candidates to take over a marketing post for the park, something else that he says could help boost ticket sales.

“We were struggling. Now, we’ve hit that [inflection] point and we’re moving up,” he said. “And I feel confident... we have people in place that are actually moving [it] forward.”

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