December 20, 2016

On December 13th, the Jackson Zoo received an official letter of accreditation from the Zoological Association of America (ZAA). The ZAA is made up of over 60 properties in the United States, including the Fort Worth Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, and Pittsburgh Zoo, among others.

Originally formed in 1987, the mission of the ZAA is “to promote responsible ownership, management, conservation, and propagation of animals in both private and public facilities through professional standards in husbandry, animal care, safety and ethics.”  ZAA accredited members are among the finest facilities in the United States, with the best safety record of any of the major zoological trade associations.

The inspection took place in November, with several members of the ZAA spending time going over the property, examining exhibits, animals and records, and meeting staff members. Properties are judged on the following criteria:

Physical Facility
Husbandry and Animal Care Practices
Record Keeping and Health Care Records
Knowledge of Animals by Personnel
Animal Diet and Nutrition
Facility Security
Veterinary Care
Licensing and Permits
Safety Plans

The letter stated that the Jackson Zoo has continued to meet all ZAA’s objectives: professional standards for husbandry and animal care practices; accurate animal and medical records; appropriate, safe, and quality existence for animals kept in a captive environment; safe environment for humans, both staff and visitors; and enhanced survival of species by the use of appropriate methods.

“ZAA accreditation standards meet or exceed all accepted industry standards,” said Jackson Zoo Director Beth Poff. “Our recognition by this organization shows that our animal care and safety standards have been and will continue to be our highest priority.”

The accreditation has been granted for the next five years, and allows Jackson Zoo staff additional support for care and husbandry of the over 200 species that reside on West Capitol. The Jackson Zoo is continuously regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Mississippi State Department of Fish & Wildlife (MSDFW).

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The Annual Membership Meeting held at the Jackson Zoo on Tuesday, October 18th, announced new members to the Jackson Zoo Board of Directors, and also included a ribbon cutting and special giraffe encounter.

Outgoing President Mrs. JoAnne Prichard Morris was elected for her second term, joining new board members Mr. William McElroy, Mrs. Kimberly Hardy, and Mrs. Gene Wright for 2016-2019. Board members are nominated by a committee, and are then elected to serve one or two three-year terms. Mr. Russell Turley was elected President, and Mr. Jeffrey Graves was elected Vice-president.

In addition, Mrs. Erin Shirley-Orey, Ms. Serena Wilson, and Mr. Eric Stracener concluded their second three-year terms. Each was rewarded a plaque of recognition for their service to the Jackson Zoo.

Zoo members, board members, zoo staff and their families enjoyed the park after hours, officially completing the new seating at the Gertrude C. Ford Wildlife Adventures Theater with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Maggie Bjorgum of Belinda Stewart Architects was recognized for her work, and the Gertrude C Ford Foundation, project sponsor, was honored for its continuing support of the Jackson Zoo.

Guests were also invited to a special Keeper Chat with “Casper” and “Kevin Davis Knox”, the two Reticulated giraffes that greet all park guests. Casper joined the Jackson Zoo in 2004, and will have his 13th birthday on October 31st. His now two-year-old “adopted” brother joined the zoo in June of 2015. K.D. was named in honor of Kevin Stump, CEO of Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency, and Davis Frye of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, who sponsored his arrival.

For more information regarding board nominations, elections, duties and responsibilities, please contact info@jacksonzoo.org.

 

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Questions about AZA Resignation

Lots of people are asking questions about what resigning from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums means for the Jackson Zoo.

In order to better help everyone understand what this is all about, here are the most asked questions and the answers regarding the Jackson Zoo Boards recent decision.

“What is the AZA?”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a group of zoo and animal care professionals that have agreed on a level of standards for zoos regarding animal care, facilities, business structure and financing, development, conservation, and species survival. It is well respected, and can make certain aspects of running a zoo easier.

The Jackson Zoo plans to re-apply as soon as possible, but until that time, we still work with other AZA zoos and professionals. In fact, key members of zoo staff remain a part of the AZA organization, and ALL staff remain dedicated to the practices and policies of the AZA.

“Will we lose animals on loan from other zoos?”

Not that we know of. The Jackson Zoo Deputy Director has talked to many of the zoos that we currently work with. No one has given any indication that they would request the return of their animals, and are understanding and empathetic to our course of action. It also follows that the Jackson Zoo will not request the return of any animals we have on loan to AZA zoos.

Our level of animal care is not in question.

 

“Is the Jackson Zoo failing/closing?”

No. Daily operations will not experience any change, and currently scheduled 2016 activities are a go, plus events for 2017 and beyond are in concrete planning stages.

COMING UP:

Thursday, we have PokemonGO Safari from 5-7:30. $5 for general admission, $3 for members
September 3-5 is Frozen Treat Animal Enrichment Weekend, 3 days of keepers doling out frozen treats to their animals (regular admission).
September 22 is Zoo Party Unleashed at Highland Village.
Also to come is Boo at the Zoo in October and Cookies with Santa in December.

The Jackson Zoo Board of Directors unveiled the Ten Year Plan for a “new zoo” at the end of 2015, and part of the decision to formally resign from the AZA for a brief period is to make that plan a reality. In the coming two to three years, we will be building the financial stability to step into our second century and fulfill the vision of how our currently good zoo can become great.


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The Board of Directors of the Jackson Zoological Society voted unanimously to resign its membership in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), sending a resignation letter on Friday, August the 19th. Zoo staff, with the support of the Board, will work over the next two-three years to identify a funding structure that supports its recently completed facility master plan and strengthen its organizational and financial model. The Zoo anticipates that it will  re-apply to be a member of the AZA once the integrated funding, organizational and financials models are in place.

Over the past 25 years, zoo staff has worked diligently to address the needs of an aging facility, while ensuring the highest standards of animal care. Going forward, Zoo staff will continue to focus on upgrading and transforming the zoo, working to broaden and strengthen its relationships with the philanthropic community, as well as its partnership with the City of Jackson.

Jackson Zoo and its staff have tremendous respect for all of its great colleagues representing AZA-accredited institutions across the country. Zoo staff will continue to work with them in the future, ensuring that the animals that call Jackson Zoo home continue to receive the highest standards of care, which have always been central to the Zoo’s efforts. The Jackson Zoo remains regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Mississippi State Department of Fish & Wildlife (MSDFW).


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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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