top of page

About Jackson Zoo

Welcome to the Jackson Zoo, located in the heart of Mississippi's capital city. Our zoo is home to hundreds of animals from all around the world, and we work hard to provide them with a safe and comfortable environment to live in. Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to providing the best possible care for our animals, while also educating the public about the importance of conservation and wildlife preservation. We invite you to come and discover the wonders of the natural world with us.

HISTORY OF THE JACKSON ZOO

Firehouse_Admissions.png

1919

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).

1916

The City of Jackson acquires 79 acres of land from Samuel Livingston for $36,000.

Magnolia_Bennet_Sign.png

1930’s

The Zoo survived the depression and built an education center.

1921

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).

1948

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).

1964

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.

1970’s

The children’s petting zoo and animal hospital was built. The Friends of the Jackson Zoo were formed (1975).

1985

The African Rainforest exhibit was developed.

1989

The Zoo became AAZPA accredited (now known as the AZA). The children’s petting zoo was renovated to become the Discovery Zoo.

Early 1990’s

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.

1995

State government approved legislation that provided $4 million for capital improvements.

1996

The Zoo became a member of a community organization called ZAPP (Zoo Area Progressive Partnership), which assists in the regeneration of the neighborhoods surrounding the zoo.

2004

1998

The city agreed to a $1.5 million dollar match, making the African Savannah and Mississippi Wilderness exhibits possible.

2005

The African Savannah exhibit opened.

2006

Wilderness Mississippi exhibit opened. The zoo was named a “Southern Travel Treasure” by AAA Magazine.

2007

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.

2010

The new 8,000 sq ft Sumatran Tiger exhibit opens. 

2012

The Gertrude C. Ford Education Center Display Hall opens.

2013

The Zoo undergoes a new and exciting branding image with a mission to “Zoo it Better.”

2014

Endangered Sumatran tiger cub born on May 22. Jackson Zoo specialty license plate introduced.

2015

Twin Red panda cubs born (endangered). Partnership with Jackson State University instated until 2018. Changing rooms and lounge added to Splash Pad.

2016

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.

2017

Dinos! A selection of “life sized” animatronic dinosaurs 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.

2018

Critically endangered Asiatic Black bear joins the animal collection. Blue Bell Creameries becomes title sponsor for the popular Ice Cream Safari.

2019

Introduction of the Sunset Safari event during the summer months, sponsored by . Jackson Zoological Society dissolves and zoo management reverts to City of Jackson Parks and Recreation Department. Park temporarily closes to the public to establish USDA licensing under City of Jackson. Modernization plans are initialized during the public hiatus.

2020

Necessary infrastructure and deferred maintenance repairs begin. COVID-19 pandemic causes slow down of all renovations in the zoo due to lock down, but repairs continue. Standard operating USDA license is granted in July, and outdoor spaces in the zoo open to the public for limited hours and capacity on Saturdays and Sundays under COVID-19 safety protocols. COVID-conscious event “I Spy Halloween” created to fill in for highly requested Boo at the Zoo event.

2021

Zoo hours are expanded to Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 AM to 4 PM. Another COVID-conscious event, Summer Fling, invites families to the zoo after hours in July, with Blue Bell Ice Cream. I Spy Halloween returns courtesy of Credit Unions of Mississippi, and Santa Station is back for the first time since 2018, sponsored by CU’s of MS, Visit Jackson, and Zoo Area Progressive Partnership.

THE MODERN ZOOLOGICAL PARK

In the 21st century, a zoological park, or zoo, is not simply a showcase for exotic animals, meant to entertain masses and generate profit. Animal lovers and environmentalists take specific educational programs and go through extensive training to become a member of a modern animal care staff.

Today’s accredited zoos have evolved into professional campuses focused on animal care and research, education, and conservation. Our exhibits and daily care schedules follow standard protocols for constantly improving animal welfare, including saving species in danger of extinction all over the world, thanks to national and international Species Survival Programs.

Most of our animals are zoo born and zoo bred, meaning they have never had to survive in the wild on their own. Only the elderly animals in any accredited park are “wild caught,” and most often it was as a young animal that could not be rehabilitated and released due to age, injury, or circumstance. Professional and ethical zoos no longer trap and cage wildlife for the entertainment of humans. In fact, most zoos and their staff support non-profit organizations around the world that actively fight abuse and/or exploitation.

In fact, zoos every where are trying to move past “caging” in all exhibits as they can. The goal of a modern professional zookeeper is to create and maintain a safe and comfortable exhibit that proscribes to an animals natural habitat as much as possible. Notice that new animal exhibits and upgrades around the world provide more space, more airflow, more areas for instinctual behaviors, and barriers that allow visibility to the public while including more protection for the animal, too.

Today’s modern zoos work together to help learn as much about animals as possible, whether they are in zoos and refuges, or in their wild habitats. While you don’t see it from the zoo path, the animal care staff keeps detailed records of behaviors and veterinary aspects of each animal, and these are related to other animal professionals all over the world for their research. For example, the only reason animal experts know anything about the reclusive and elusive Pygmy Hippo in the wild is due to information gleaned from zoos!

ZOO FACTS

  • The Zoo has served up to 85,000 visitors annually, with 47% from the Jackson metro area, 43% from other Mississippi counties and 10% from other states. The Zoo serves every segment of the population, creating a wonderfully diverse audience.

  • The Zoo is a living classroom. Special discounts are given to schools and school districts, as well as sponsorship from local or regional businesses.

  • The Zoo is a remarkable interactive family facility, with more than 90% of its visitors being families with children under 12 with their accompanying parents or grandparents.

  • The Zoo has a strong, active volunteer force who works hard, giving many hours of their time and energy to the Zoo.

  • The Zoo is located on 110 acres of land acquired by the City of Jackson from Samuel Livingston. Approximately 54 acres are included, and 34 are in use.

  • Twenty-two full time staff members are employed at the Jackson Zoo. An additional 10 part-time staff members assist as needed.

  • The Zoo’s annual operating budget is $1.2 million.

  • The Zoo opened in 1919 and moved to Livingston Park in 1921, operated by the City until 1986. Through an operating agreement with the City of Jackson, Jackson Zoological Society, Inc. managed the Zoo until September 30, 2019. The zoo is now currently under the direction of the City of Jackson Parks & Recreation Department.

  • Number of Species at The Zoo: 70

  • Number of Animals: 200

  • 11 Endangered Species: Black-headed Spider Monkey, Chimpanzee, Cotton Top Tamarin, Fishing Cat, Grevy’s Zebra, Pygmy Hippo, Red Ruffed Lemur, Sumatran Tiger, White-handed Gibbon, Asiatic Black Bear.

  • Active Species Survival Programs: Black and White Colobus Monkey, Black-necked Stilt, Blue-bellied Roller, Black-headed Spider Monkey, Chimpanzee, Cotton Top Tamarin, Diana Guenon, Fishing Cat, Hawk-headed Parrot, Kinkajou, Klipspringer, Kookaburra, North American River Otter, Red Ruffed Lemur, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Sable Antelope, Schmidt’s Monkey, Sumatran Tiger, Tawny frogmouth, Wattled Crane, White Handed Gibbon, White Naped Crane, White Rhinoceros.

 

Completed Projects

  • Rhino Exhibit Renovations (2016)

  • Gertrude C Ford Wildlife Adventures Theater Seating (2016)

  • Red Panda Exhibit (2015)

  • Splash Pad Lounge (2015)

  • Fishing Cat Exhibit (2015)

  • Amur Leopard Exhibit (2014)

  • Gibbon Exhibit (2014)

  • Tiger Exhibit (2010)

  • Gertrude C. Ford Education Center (2009)

  • Wilderness Mississippi (2006)

Zoo Tours and Educational Programs

At the Jackson Zoo, we offer a wide range of services to our visitors. From guided tours to educational programs, we strive to provide a fun and engaging experience for people of all ages. Our tours are led by knowledgeable staff members who will take you on a journey through our zoo, introducing you to our amazing animals and teaching you about their habitats and behaviors. We also offer a variety of educational programs for schools and community groups, designed to inspire a love of nature and wildlife in young people. Come and see what we have to offer!

bottom of page