The Jackson Zoo encourages everyone to experience our beautiful animal collection, and welcomes all humans to visit during business hours, no matter their race, religion, orientation, capability, or any other status. We believe completely in inclusivity, and comply with all federal, state, and local mandates for accessibility of all persons. Due to our responsibilities to the valuable, and quite often endangered, species that call our park home, however, certain safety protocols must stay in place.
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Mississippi Support Animal Act, the Jackson Zoo welcomes trained Service Animals to assist their owners on Zoo grounds. Service Animals are defined by the ADA as animals that are individually trained to do work or perform specific tasks for a person or people with disabilities. Although we love and value them, companion animals (pets), exotic species, or animals whose sole function is to provide therapy, comfort or emotional support do NOT qualify as service animals under the ADA, and they are therefore NOT allowed on zoo grounds.
Service animals must be announced by radio to all staff upon arrival at Admissions. They must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work, or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls. The care and supervision of a service animal is the sole responsibility of the owner.
In the event that a services animal’s presence causes our collection animals undue stress or anxiety, or the potential for injury, we reserve the right to designate some areas off limits, or to designate the area as sensitive and request that guests observe extra caution in these areas. Should a member of the animal care staff feel that their animal is in distress, we reserve the right to ask the guest and animal to move on to another exhibit.
Under both ADA and MS law, any service animal can be excluded from a public accommodation if it poses a direct threat to health and safety (aggressive barking and snapping, frantic behavior). The animal may also be excluded if it is not housebroken, or if it is out of control and owner is unable or unwilling to effectively control it.
Responsibilities of the guests with service animals include:
- To care for and supervise the service animal, including appropriately disposing of any service animal waste.
- To maintain control over the service animal at all times and adhere to leash laws as applicable.
- To refrain from taking the service animal into restricted areas.
- To remove the service animal when a conflict or potential conflict may occur.
- The owner may be held liable (and charged as applicable) for any damage, injury or death caused by the service animal to the grounds, him/herself, the animal or plant collection, employees, or visitors to the same extent as others without service animals are held responsible or charged.
- Owners should also be aware that the nature of Zoo activities is such that service animals may be exposed to diseases of animals within the Zoo’s collection, and this risk is assumed wholly by the owner when bringing the service animal on site.