Press Room



Dinos to Visit Jackson Zoo Spring of 2017

Posted by on Feb 14, 2017 in Animal Exhibits, News | Comments Off on Dinos to Visit Jackson Zoo Spring of 2017

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. Open PDF...

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Endangered Pygmy Hippo Born at Jackson Zoo

Posted by on Jan 27, 2017 in Animal Exhibits, News | Comments Off on Endangered Pygmy Hippo Born at Jackson Zoo

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. ### 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/. PDF Form For more info, contact...

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Jackson Zoo Receives Accreditation from Zoological Association of America

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in General, News | Comments Off on Jackson Zoo Receives Accreditation from Zoological Association of America

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). PDF Version...

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Jackson Zoo Says Goodbye to Bornean Orangutan “Pumpkin” Nov 12 & 13

Posted by on Nov 7, 2016 in Animal Exhibits, News | Comments Off on Jackson Zoo Says Goodbye to Bornean Orangutan “Pumpkin” Nov 12 & 13

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.   PDF...

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Jackson Zoo Welcomes 2016-2019 Board of Directors

Posted by on Oct 23, 2016 in General, News | Comments Off on Jackson Zoo Welcomes 2016-2019 Board of Directors

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.   Dowload PDF...

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Questions about AZA Resignation

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in General, News | Comments Off on 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...

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Jackson Zoo Resigns from Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in General, News | Comments Off on Jackson Zoo Resigns from Association of Zoos & Aquariums

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...

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Species Survival Plan to Relocate Bornean Orangutans

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Animal Exhibits, General, News | Comments Off on Species Survival Plan to Relocate Bornean Orangutans

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...

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Jackson Zoo-born Red Wolf Gives Birth to Pup in St. Vincent’s Reserve

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Animal Exhibits, General, News | Comments Off on Jackson Zoo-born Red Wolf Gives Birth to Pup in St. Vincent’s Reserve

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...

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Missy the Chimpanzee Matriarch Will Be Missed

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Animal Exhibits, News | Comments Off on Missy the Chimpanzee Matriarch Will Be Missed

AUGUST 12, 2016 Jackson MS Animal care staff at the Jackson Zoo sadly announced the death of “Missy,” the chimpanzee matriarch, during the evening hours of Tuesday, August 9th. Born on August 10th, 1980, keepers would have celebrated her 36th birthday in the following days. Missy was mate to the late Jojo, mother to Pablo (born 1990, currently on loan to the Sacramento Zoo), and mother to Mojo (current Jackson Zoo visitor favorite, born 2009). Missy was the second chimp ever born at the Jackson Zoo, and was named “Miss” in honor of her home state. Animal care staff says she had a serene demeanor, and was the primary peace keeper of the chimp colony. Whether calming her rambunctious son, or breaking up squabbles between the other female chimps, her island companions showed her great respect. She was also normally first in line for treats, and was known for blowing “raspberries” at keepers when treats were not handed over immediately. Getting misted by the water hose on hot summer afternoons was also high on her list of favorite activities. Average age for a chimpanzee is anywhere from 30 to 40 years. Missy had been under veterinary watch for some routine medical issues, but her death was unexpected. A full necropsy will be performed to determine the exact cause. Animal Curator Willie Bennett, working for over 40 years at the Jackson Zoo, cared for her throughout her life. “Miss was very observant at a very early age. She was very inquisitive about anything new she came across. There were a lot of traits she picked up from her parents that made her a great mother, also,” said Bennett. “She will be missed by everyone that worked with her over the years.” Visitors can still see her son, Mojo, and the female chimps, Binti, Maebell, and Arby, every day from 9 am to 4 pm except December 25th. For more information about chimpanzees, check out...

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