March 27, 2018

Jackson, Miss. – 

Today, the Board of Directors for the Jackson Zoological Society accepted and approved a task force recommendation to find a more optimal location for the animals and their visitors within the city of Jackson. The task force, comprised of zoo board members, local business leaders, city representatives, and city residents, spent months assessing the results of several feasibility studies compiled over the past decade. The final recommendation was to investigate the adaptation of 25 acres at the LeFleur’s Bluff State Park into a new zoological and family attraction….

 

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Dec. 18, 2017
Jackson, Miss.—  Animal care staff at the Jackson Zoo are pleased to announce the arrival of a new species to the park at 2918 West Capitol Street, the Asiatic black bear. Two-year-old “Meeko” arrived in late November from the Metro Richmond Zoo in Mosely, Virginia, and has been getting to know his keepers and new home… READ MORE


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Staff of the Jackson Zoological Society are sad to announce the death of “Casper,” the 14-year-old Reticulated giraffe who had been greeting visitors since his arrival at the zoo in November of 2004. He died on Sunday afternoon, October 29th, due to complications from urinary blockage.

His keepers witnessed changes in his behavior, and they immediately notified Jackson Zoo veterinarian team, technician Donna Todd, and Doctors Michael and Beckey Holifield. After close observation and testing, they suspected that he might suffer from bladder stones. Since any illness in giraffes can be serious due to their size and build, keepers and the vet team made every effort to resolve the issues and put him back on a healthy track. His condition seemed to improve, as he was seen actively engaging with younger adopted brother, “Knox.” Unfortunately, Casper’s improvement was temporary, and he died behind the scenes with his animal care staff present.

“The male giraffe, Casper, was diagnosed as having urinary stones with a blockage and despite medical management and nutritional changes he did not improve,” said Dr. Michael Holifield in a statement.  “An attempt to surgically remove the stones was unsuccessful.” 

Casper was born in Milwaukee in 2003, and joined the Jackson Zoo when he was one year old. Casper became an icon of the Jackson Zoo experience, as he was almost always the very first animal encountered when guests entered the gates.

Unfortunately, zoo staff has also been adjusting to the loss of the female Amur leopard, “Katya,” who had to be euthanized on October 15th. She had been exhibiting signs of extreme age related issues for some time, and her keepers monitored her closely. When her behavior indicated a serious quality of life decline, her caregivers made the difficult decision to let her go. Katya was born at the Pittsburg Zoo in 2000, and had joined the Asian area of the Jackson Zoo in November of 2005. She and her surviving mate, “Nicolai,” were part of the Amur Leopard Species Survival Program. They have a female offspring in Cape May Zoo, NJ.

“Life and death, occurring for all living things, is part of the day to day experience in any zoo,” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director Beth Poff.  “Every animal’s passing is felt, especially with the ones that our guests see as long time ‘celebrities.’  It will be sad to no longer greet ‘Casper’ as we enter the zoo, he will be missed.”

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Jackson, Miss.—  Jackson Zoological Society animal care staff sadly announced the death of their elder Southern White rhinoceros, “Ronnie,” during the night of August 2, 2017.  Well past the life expectancy of his relatives in the wild, Ronnie spent nearly 45 years representing the majesty and power of five species of rhinos here in the United States.

Born in South Africa in February of 1973, Ronnie came to the Jackson Zoo in March of 2011 from the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida. Since then, he was often the pinnacle of the Jackson Zoo experience, being the largest living creature in the park, until younger “Big Mike” arrived in 2013.

“He was a very special animal to work with, and keepers found him very easy to care for,” said Animal Care Supervisor Willie Bennett. The past few years had seen a major increase in his needs as he got into his forties (the median age of a White or wide-lipped rhino is 34 years). Careful watch over his diet and exercise was required, as well as daily medication for arthritic joints and skin issues caused by his more limited mobility. “Even as his health was declining, Ronnie’s spirit stayed strong,” said Bennett. “He never gave up.”

Keepers described Ronnie as a gentle giant who was not shy about his love of grain or getting “a good scratch behind the ear.”  Also known to be a big fan of sweet potatoes, he loved creating and wallowing in mud ravines in his exhibit, twitching his ears around when his name was called. He was a favorite “adoptee” of members throughout the years, including a special relationship with a six-year-old rhino advocate named Mary Gayle. Every year on his birthday since 2012, her family would donate to the park, getting a special visit behind the scenes. Ronnie would come to greet the little girl when she sang to him.

 “It is with great sorrow that we share the loss of one of our rhinos, ‘Ronnie,’” Executive Director Beth Poff said. “He has been a part of the zoo for over six years, and was a big part of our special behind-the-scenes experiences for donors. His gentle impressiveness will be missed.”

In the whole world, only about 30,000 rhinos exist today. Southern White rhinos were brought back from the brink of extinction, going from 50 animals in the early 1900’s to current number of about 21,000. Although internationally banned in 1977, the resurgence of illegal poaching in 2012 keeps all five species of rhinos on the IUCN critically endangered list. There are less than 6,000 black rhinos, about 100 Sumatran rhinos, nearly 65 Javan rhinos, and only three Black rhinos remaining in their respective territories. Support for their conservation can be given by visiting or joining the Jackson Zoological Society, giving to conservation and anti-poaching organizations like savetherhino.org, or by simply spreading the awareness of plight of these amazing creatures.

 

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Jackson, Miss.—  The Jackson Zoological Society is proud to announce that they have raised the number of critically endangered red ruffed lemurs in the world by two. On Saturday, May 27th, zookeepers arrived at work in the early morning hours to discover two newborn males in the lemur night house.

The mother, “Nekena,” arrived at the Jackson Zoo in December of 2016 from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. She joined father and son, “Timmy” and “Phoenix,” respectively, as part of the red ruffed lemur Species Survival Plan.

“The 2017 Breeding and Transfer Plan was published this past February. At that time we had 187 red ruffed lemurs in the Species Survival Plan®(SSP), where we recommended 18 males and 16 females for breeding,” said Christie Eddie, Red ruffed lemur SSP Coordinator at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. “We are in the midst of birthing season and these offspring are among birth reports from five SSP institutions.  I expect more to come!”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra) as Critically Endangered. Found only in a small area of Madagascar, they are the most endangered type of lemur in the world due to increased cyclones, illegal logging, and the illegal exotic pet trade. According to the IUCN, there are only approximately 35 lemurs on average per square kilometer in their native habitat and declining rapidly. Less than 65% of newborn young survive to three-months of age in the wild, and there are less than 600 in zoos or refuges in the world.

 “We are absolutely delighted to see these two little ones arrive, both for our park and the species as a whole” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director, Beth Poff. “More than a third of the animals at the Jackson Zoo are either endangered or threatened, and although every birth here is special to the staff, adding numbers to an endangered species is that much more precious.”

The Jackson Zoological Society participates in Species Survival Plans for many other animals, including successful births for the Pygmy hippo and the Sumatran tiger. The Jackson Zoo also regularly submits information and samples to dozens of ongoing international studies.

It will be several months before the baby lemurs are out on exhibit, and viewing times at the Jackson Zoo Veterinary Hospital are still to be determined. Visitors and Jackson Zoo members can visit the adult lemurs during regular zoo hours (seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm), and follow the Jackson Zookeepers on Instagram (@JacksonZoo) for close-ups and behind-the-scenes photos of all the park residents. People can also “adopt” the baby lemurs (or their parents) for twelve months by contacting EJ Rivers at ejrivers@jacksonzoo.org.

For more information about the red ruff lemur, visit the Lemur Conservation Foundation online at lemurreserve.org.

 

PDF of Baby Lemur Press Release 2017

Sunday, May 27, 2017 – Red Ruffed Lemur babies


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