'We remain focused on the goal of providing a quality zoo': Mayor releases statement on Zoo director's resignation

Beth Poff, executive director of the Jackson Zoo (Source: WLBT)
Beth Poff, executive director of the Jackson Zoo (Source: WLBT)
Updated: Aug. 9, 2018 at 3:43 PM CDT
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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Beth Poff, executive director of the Jackson Zoo, has resigned, according to Jackson Zoological Society Board President Jeffrey Graves.

Graves could not say whether he could provide a copy of the resignation letter at this point.

The Board of Directors was scheduled to meet Thursday at 3:30, but that meeting has been cancelled, according to the zoo's website.

It is not known what date the resignation will be effective.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba released a statement on her resignation saying;

We thank Beth Poff for her service. We remain focused on the goal of providing a quality zoo and have already started the process of selecting new management.

Deputy Director David Wetzel remains Interim Director and all daily operations continue as normal. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Poff was placed on administrative leave August 2 by the zoo board. Friday, August 3, the City of Jackson agreed to give them $200,000 to make it over the next two months.

She later admitted to misusing bond money for day-to-day operations of the Zoo.

The zoo is currently $350,000 in debt.

Most of that money is owed from bonds they still need to pay off.

Board President Jeffery Graves issued a personal statement about the future of the Jackson Zoo saying:

The Board and City Administration are in communication regarding the future of The Jackson Zoo. I'm confident that the Board and the City will work together to find a solution that's best for the animals, Zoo staff, and the City of Jackson. In the meantime, our Zoo staff is committed to maintaining the highest quality experience for our members and guests every day. I hope that we all continue to support the Zoo throughout these tough times.

A new management team is expected to take over operations in October, but some city leaders want a deeper audit into their books before then.

Recently, there's been a debate about relocating the zoo to LeFleur's Bluff State Park.

Zoo officials say a study showed that being located near the interstate and other attractions could boost their attendance significantly.

We will have much more on this story in today's newscasts.

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