Is zoo leaving west Jackson? - - The News for South Mississippi

Residents concerned zoo will leave west Jackson

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A group of concerned residents met at Voice of Calvary Church Monday. A group of concerned residents met at Voice of Calvary Church Monday.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There are fears in west Jackson that plans are underway to move the zoo from the area.

The Jackson Zoo is already in jeopardy of losing national accreditation with attendance down from an average of 230,000 a year to 120,000.

Meanwhile west Jackson residents are trying to put together a plan to help save the financially strapped animal habitat.

"I have to get that zoo accredited that's the important thing," said Jackson Zoo Executive Director Beth Poff.

She told a group of concerned residents at Voice of Calvary Church Monday that the animal habitat could soon lose its accreditation after years of declining visitation.

Attendance is down 35% over the last three years.

The zoo board and a specially created blue ribbon committee are trying to think of ways to keep it afloat.

It needs $1.4 million for improvements to meet the Sept. 8 accreditation deadline.

Among the suggestions are reducing the zoo size or moving it to another location in the city.

"All I'm thinking about and all my zoo board is thinking about right now gotta keep that accreditation. If I lose that accreditation it's gonna change the zoo that we even know today as much as it's already struggling," added Poff.

West Jackson residents are trying to formulate a plan to present to the mayor, city council and zoo board.

"We want this to be a partnership where we're also saying to the city and to the zoo that this is our community and we want to partner alongside of you," said zoo supporter Cassandra Welchin.

Architect Roy Decker is working on a plan to improve the facility and surrounding area.

In August of 2010 the elephant exhibit was forced to leave because the zoo could not afford to maintain the animals.

Poff said the zoo has a debt of $675,000 and has been carrying a debt for the past three years.

Some west Jackson residents said they have no voice in the decision making process.

"We're not represented in none of this stuff. We're not at the ball game at none of this stuff. So whatever we say we'll never ever get any fruition from it because we're not there. We're not on the zoo board. We're not on a blue ribbon committee," said west Jackson resident Claude McInnis.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

The group plans to meet again August 19th.

City council members and state lawmakers said they are working to get the zoo the needed funding.

Copyright 2013 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.



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