Jackson, Miss.—  The Jackson Zoo is once again bringing the pre-historic era back to “life” inside the park on April 1, 2017 so people can “See the Past and Protect the Future.” Thanks to Regions, United HealthCare Community Plan of Mississippi, and M3A Architecture, dino fans of all ages will see nearly life-sized and moving replicas of the ancient creatures during a three-month event that will help raise funds and awareness for endangered species.

Dinosaurs first visited the the Jackson Zoo back in 2004, and it was exciting for both staff and guests alike. With the advancement of technology in the past decade, a new generation will get to witness more than twelve free-standing exhibits that move, breathe, and even spit water within sight of guests.

 “People have always mentioned how much they loved the dinos when they were kids,” said Executive Director Beth Poff. “We saw an opportunity to bring them back – with an upgrade – that’s both fun and educational regarding currently endangered animals. The Red pandas, Sumatran tigers, and the White rhinos are all animals that might end up like the dinosaurs if humans don’t intervene.”

Not only will the replicas from The Dinosaur Company (Billings Productions) be taking over a large section of the zoo, but they will also be over-shadowing the events between April 1 and July 2. Members will get a special preview with Doughnuts & Dinos with Dunkin Donuts; the 10th Annual Zoo Brew beer festival with Capital City Beverages will be HUGE; plus there will even be Dino Zoo Camps, Dino Night Hikes, Dino Birthday Parties, and special days highlighting conservation and endangered species.

In addition, several local attractions will be sharing the pre-historic experience. With the Visit Jackson Pre-HisTOURist Pass, people can go on a DINO TOUR in the Metro and finish with a free treat! Guests who visit The Jackson Zoo AND the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (“Be The Dino”), plus either the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame OR the Clinton Community Nature Center, can get a free “Dino Dessert” with purchase at either Sal & Mookie’s, Broad Street Bakery Café, or the Manship in the Belhaven. The special rack cards will be available at all locations starting March 10th.

There will be special admission charge at the Jackson Zoo during the limited time event, which will be an additional $2 per entry for daily admission or member visits between April 1 and July 2 of 2017. Members will have an opportunity to purchase a special Dino Pass at a discounted rate during March and April to add to their annual membership account.

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Press Release 
January 27, 2017                                                                                                                                                               

Jackson, Miss.— The Jackson Zoological Society is excited to formally announce the birth of an endangered Pygmy hippopotamus in the zoo’s African Forest area, offspring of four-year-old male, “Ralph,” and eight-year-old female, “Clementine.” Listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature List of Threatened Species (or IUCN Red List), this particular offspring has been anticipated for years. Jackson Zoo staff has named the young female “Zemora,”which means “praised” or “song.”

Jackson Zookeepers practice non-invasive animal care protocol with almost all the resident species, allowing them as natural an existence as possible. There were indications that Clementine was pregnant, but there are no current testing methods available. Most experts theorize gestation is anywhere from 190 to 210 days, any time of year. Keeper suspicions were confirmed when they arrived in the early morning hours of December 25th (the only day the zoo is closed to the public), and discovered the infant female resting comfortably with its mother.

“Births at the zoo are always exciting, and we are especially excited about the birth of a Pygmy hippo,” said Executive Director Beth Poff. “This species is one that breeds well in captivity, which means the survival of the species is more assured than in the wild. This is an example of zoos making a difference!”

Zemora weighed 11 lbs. at birth, and now registers at 31 lbs. going into her second month. She is already imitating her mother in foraging behavior, is very inquisitive regarding her surroundings, and swimming at every opportunity. Animal care staff do not believe that Clementine will want to bring her young out into the exhibit with Ralph for a couple of months, hoping to have her visible to guests mid-spring.

Native to the forests and swamps of West Africa (primarily Liberia), Choeropsis liberiensis is one of only two extant species of hippo, the other being their more common larger cousins. Pygmies are semi-aquatic like their kin (using water to moisturize their skin and regulate their temperature), but they are far more nocturnal and reclusive. They are difficult to locate in the wild, much less study. In fact, most of what humans have learned about this species is primarily via research in zoos and sanctuaries.

Both of the parent Pygmy hippos at the Jackson Zoo have been part of this research effort. They are subjects of an ongoing project directed by Dr. Gabriella Flacke of the University of Western Australia, who collects samples from zoos all over the world. Her study is focused on the overall health of pygmies in captivity, with special emphasis on kidney disease and reproductive health. Dr. Flacke visited the Jackson Zoo staff in February of 2016 to see Ralph and Clementine after many years of receiving scientific data, and discussed her most current findings with keepers and zoo guests. The details of Zemora’s birth will be entered into the Jackson Zoo’s next data submission to further all studies.

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The Jackson Zoo is accredited by the Zoological Association of America, and certified by the Better Business Bureau.

The mission of the Jackson Zoo is to provide visitors with a quality recreational and educational environment dedicated to wildlife care and conservation. For more information, visit The Jackson Zoo at http://jacksonzoo.org/.

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For more info, contact EJ Rivers, Membership and Media Specialist. 601-352-2580 ext 228 or ejrivers@jacksonzoo.org.


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Jackson, Miss.— The staff of the Jackson Zoological Society, Inc.,  invites zoo members, guests, and media to join them in saying “bon voyage” to their beloved male Bornean orangutan this Saturday and Sunday, November 12 and 13. Animal care staff will be providing extra enrichment to the ape during regular park hours (9 am to 4 pm), talking to guests in front of his exhibit, and a goodbye card will be placed nearby for the public to sign. The public is also encouraged to share their favorite stories of “Pumpkin” via social media, using #JxnZooPumpkinTales.

Pumpkin is scheduled to be moved to the Houston Zoo before the end of the month to reside with a larger orangutan group. Listed in the SSP to help rebuild the species, he will hopefully mate with their resident Bornean female and continue to increase the numbers of this critically endangered species. Currently, there are less than 1,500 northern Bornean orangutans remaining in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with their numbers declining by more than 50% over the past 60 years.

The female, “Kimmie,” was successfully relocated to the Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo in September. She and her infant son with Pumpkin, “Max,” were sent to the state of the art facility after it was determined that the baby was showing signs of slow development. According to Judy Palermo, Public Relations with the Indianapolis Zoo, “Kim and Max continue to enjoy their time outdoors in a large area away from public view. Baby and mom continue to acclimate to their new home.”

Although the Jackson Zoo has had orangutans for almost 20 years, the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums made the decision in August to move the orangutans due to the breeding challenges created by the aging exhibit. The orangutan exhibit is due to be completely redesigned and replaced in the Ten Year Plan (adopted in 2015), but the needs of the animals were more time sensitive than the availability of the funds.

Jackson Zoo Director Beth Poff said, “While it is sad to bid farewell to ‘Pumpkin,’ we are at the same time happy for him to have an expanded home amidst other orangutans.  Even with the exhibit expansion in 2007, the Society always knew it was a temporary fix and not the best for a breeding situation. As always, we want what is best for the animal, and this move is a good thing.”

The Jackson Zoo staff and Board of Directors are currently conducting a feasibility study of a major funding campaign which would enable the Jackson Zoological Society to complete the Ten Year Plan. Along with new and renovated exhibits in the expanded park, the plan includes a larger, more up-to-date orangutan exhibit, which would bring the animals back into the collection.

 

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AUGUST 23, 2016
Jackson MS

Over the weekend, Jackson Zoo Deputy Director Dave Wetzel was informed by the  Orangutan Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that the longtime Bornean orangutan residents would be permanently moved to other AZA properties.

The call was the end result of a Jackson Zoo requested consultation of this endangered species due to the birth of a baby boy in November of 2015. The female “Kimmie” (or “Sabah”) has been attentive in her care of her offspring, but despite supplemental feedings and additional multivitamins, the keepers felt that the baby was not developing as expected. They requested input from the Orangutan SSP of the AZA, who sent representatives from Chicago, Illinois, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a day long evaluation on August 8th. The infant, was indeed developing a little slower than normal.

Also discussed was the behavior of the adult animals, which had changed since the arrival of the much-anticipated newborn. Kimmie lost interest in the male, “Pumpkin,” and discouraged his attention towards the baby. The age and layout of the exhibit itself made “shifting” (moving the animals from their holding rooms to the outdoor area) challenging, especially with the addition of an infant.

After concluding the visit, the SSP took their findings back to the group and held further discussions. In the end, they decided it was in the best interest of the animals that they be permanently relocated to zoos with more current exhibits. Animal care staff at the Indianapolis Zoo (with a brand new state-of-the-art exhibit) will welcome the female with her baby, and the male will be relocated to the Houston Zoo, effective immediately.

Jackson Zoo has had orangutans for almost 20 years. In 2007, the zoo was able to fund a revamp of the exhibit, increasing size and amenities of both the night holding suite and the outdoor exhibit. In the Jackson Zoo Ten Year Plan (unveiled in 2015), the orangutan exhibit is due to be completely redesigned and replaced, as the current structure is too old and outdated to be adjusted with upgrades. Unfortunately, such a project is unlikely in near future.

As the Jackson Zoo animal care staff prepare for the departure of the animals, they are confident in the positive outcome for all three, and look forward to working with the receiving zoos and keeping up with their progress. Jackson Zoo Director Beth Poff and the Zoo Board hope that the future of the Ten Year Plan will see the return of orangutans.

For more information about the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, please visit their site online at http://www.aza.org/species-survival-plan-programs.


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AUGUST 5, 2016
Jackson MS

US Fish and Wildlife Services recently contacted the Jackson Zoo to announce sightings of a Jackson-born female red wolf and her new pup within the boundaries of St. Vincent National Refuge in Florida. “Little Red Wolf” has been seen with a male born at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. Both were reintroduced into the free-range refuge as part of the Red Wolf Coalition Species Survival Plan.

This is exciting for the species, as red wolves (Canis rufus) have been on the brink of extinction for almost 40 years. In the 1920’s, red wolves ranged from southern Texas eastward up the US coastline as far as Canada, and were honored by Native Americans. Due to equal parts habitat loss and indiscriminate extermination by farmers and hunters, less than 100 pure red wolves were rounded up by wildlife officials in 1980. Those have been the foundation for the population of 182 that exists today in protected reserves in the southern US, predominantly North Carolina.

St. Vincent National Refuge is an undeveloped island located just offshore from the mouth of the Apalachicola River, in the Gulf of Mexico, in Franklin County, Florida.  The protected reserve is a haven for endangered and threatened species, such as bald eagles and sea turtles, and also serves as a breeding area for the endangered red wolves.

Bradley Smith of the US Fish and Wildlife Service sent an email on Tuesday, August 2nd to Rebecca Bose of the Wolf Conservation Center and  Jackson Zoo Deputy Director Dave Wetzel with news that the free-ranging family “seem to be doing very well.”

Red wolves have been at the Jackson Zoo since 2002. The current breeding pair, male “Kanati” (Cherokee for hunter) and female “Taladu” (Cherokee for cricket), joined the animal collection in 2012. He was born in Connecticut at Beardsley’s Zoo in 2003, but transferred from Chattanooga Nature Center. Seven-year-old “Taladu” came to Jackson from USFW Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. They had their second litter of pups in March of 2014, which were blessed by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw. With the help of Will Wydell, a coordinator for the Species Survival Plan, “Little Red Wolf” (female 2050) was sent to St. Vincent to try and increase red wolf numbers. Red wolves are believed to bond for life, so hopes are high that the pair will continue to thrive and produce in the years to come.

“We are so excited to hear of the success of the release of this female, and her addition of young to the Red wolf population at St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge,” said Jackson Zoo Director Beth Poff. “It is so rare to be able to give back to a free-range breeding program, and the Red Wolf program is one of these special groups.”

The fight for red wolves continues, as some landowners still view them as a threat, and push to stop the protective laws with regard to the capture and killing of red wolves. The Red Wolf Coalition is one of the four conservation programs supported by the Jackson Zoo “Change for Change” program. In addition to the automatic allocation of 25 cents of every admission going to conservation, there are separate boxes for donations near the entrance to the zoo that also include Ape T.A.G., Raptor Rehab, and AZA S.A.F.E.

For more information, contact EJ Rivers at ejrivers@jacksonzoo.org, or use the following links for the individual programs involved in the continuation of saving red wolves:

The Red Wolf Coalition http://www.redwolves.com
US Department of Fish and Wildlife Services http://www.fws.gov
St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge (USFWS) http://www.fws.gov/saintvincent
Wolf Conservation Center http://www.nywolf.org
The Jackson Zoo Change for Change http://www.jacksonzoo.org/conservation
Species Survival Plan http://www.aza.org/species_survival_plan_programs

People can also keep up with the Jackson Zoo keepers, who run the Jackson Zoo Instagram page from behind the scenes: http://www.instagram.com/JacksonZoo.


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