The City of Jackson acquires 79 acres of land from Samuel Livingston for $36,000.
The original Zoo consisted of fireman’s pets, squirrels, deer, raccoons, alligators and rabbits. This collection was housed in the Central Fire Station in downtown Jackson (now the Jackson Chamber of Commerce Building).
The City Council voted to situate the Zoo on the land acquired from Samuel Livingston and became known as the Livingston Park Zoo. Some of the initial exhibits still stand today (i.e. the monkey castle and the Elephant House Cafe).
The Zoo survived the depression and built an education center.
Jackson State College president, Dr. Jacob L. Reddix, helped expand the animal collection. New animals included chimpanzees, gray mangabey monkeys, a white-tailed colobus, an African loon, a lemur and two pythons.
1950’s & 60’s
The zoo was renamed The R.M. Taylor Zoo after the city commissioner who spearheaded some development of the giraffe exhibit and the large mammal moats (Asian Grottos).
The zoo was renamed the Jackson Zoological Society and started moving towards current zoo trends by changing from a varied menagerie to an organized, scientific collection.
The children’s contact yard and animal hospital was built. The Friends of the Jackson Zoo were formed (1975).
The African Rainforest exhibit was developed.
The Zoo became AAZPA accredited (now known as the AZA). The children’s petting zoo was renovated to become the Discovery Zoo and Contact Yard.
Original buildings were updated to include the conversion of the Elephant House into a café. The Zoo’s animal collection increased through intra-zoo trading and through SSP breeding programs.
State government approved legislation that provided $4 million for capital improvements.
The Zoo became a member of a community organization called ZAPP (Zoo Area Progressive Partnership); a community organization that assist in the regeneration of the neighborhoods surrounding the zoo.
The city agreed to a $1.5 million dollar match, making the African Savannah and Mississippi Wilderness exhibits possible.
The Endangered Species Carousel opened.
The African Savannah exhibit opened.
Wilderness Mississippi exhibit opened. The zoo was named a “Southern Travel Treasure” by AAA Magazine.
The zoo was named “Travel Attraction of the Year” by the Mississippi Tourism Association and “Attraction of the Year” by the Jackson Convention Visitors Bureau. Construction of the Gertrude. C. Ford Education Center began.
The new 8,000 sq ft Sumatran Tiger exhibit opens.
The Gertrude C. Ford Education Center Display Hall opens.
The Zoo undergoes a new and exciting branding image with a mission to “Zoo it Better.”
Endangered Sumatran tiger cub born on May 22. Jackson Zoo specialty license plate introduced.
Twin Red panda cubs born (endangered). Partnership with Jackson State University instated until 2018. Changing rooms and lounge added to Splash Pad.
Seating at the Gertrude C Ford Wildlife Adventures Theater completed. Rhino barn renovations finished with the support of Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Implementation of Experience Zoo, donating memberships to families of first responders and military through corporate donations.
Dinos arrive from Billings Productions for a three-month stay along the back trail of the Zoo. Two male Red ruffed lemurs (endangered) born in May. Belhaven University enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Jackson Zoo for educational outreach.
Zoo staff welcomes an endangered Asiatic black bear, or Moonbear, named Meeko. With the discovery of over 18 virtual stops and two virtual gyms inside the zoo gates, staff creates two PokemonGO events, with assistance from MetroPCS. A special day is created for JPS students and their families through the Better Together Foundation and the United Way of Central Mississippi, From A to Zoo. BTF arranged to pay for the discounted admission of thousands of students on a perfect Sunday afternoon, turning the day into a large community field trip.
The Sunset Safari is added to the event roster in May, June, July, and August. This after-hours event on the last Saturday of the summer months allows guests to enjoy specific enrichment exercises, kid friendly activities, as well as a craft brew experience for adults. The craft brew is selected by LD’s Beer Run, and served by the Barley’s Angels of Jackson. Single events are sponsored by local businesses like Trustmark, BankPlus, and Ross & Yerger. On September 31, management of the zoo reverts to the City of Jackson as they negotiate a new contract with zoOceanarium Group. The zoo temporarily closes to the public to receive new USDA viewing license.
During closure, staff and city crews make repairs, upgrades, and generally clean up the park and facilities. The long-dilapidated Discovery Zoo is torn down by Revitalize MS to make way for a safer and updated interactive family area, including a more accessible Contact Yard.