City and Jackson Zoo board settle lawsuit over bills, money and animal ownership

Jackson zoo settlement

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The City of Jackson and the Jackson Zoological Society come to terms in the lawsuit over millions in outstanding bills and ownership of the animals.

Attorneys for both sides reach an agreement with the city coming out on top.

During the roughly three minute session before Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas attorneys for the City of Jackson and the Jackson Zoological Society announced a settlement in the lawsuit the city brought against the zoo board last month.

In the agreement Jackson drops the demand for $6 million dollars in water bills and $350,000 in unauthorized expenditures.

It will also withdraw the demand for a zoo audit.

“The city has dismissed those claims, will release everybody who was affiliated with the board. That claim will go no further,” said Jackson Zoological Society attorney Dennis Horn. “ ...The title of the animals has been assigned to the city."

Under the terms the more than 30 year old Jackson Zoological Society is dissolved.

The city will also receive all personal property and monetary assets. In addition zoo workers will remain employed to care for the animals without benefits.

“The city and the zoological society have agreed that the best focus is for the animals and we have agreed that this is the best way, and we both are satisfied with the agreement,” said Jackson Zoological Society president Alexander Chess.

Both parties will pay their own costs and attorney fees.

Sam Begley, who represented the city, declined to comment.

The court was told the City Attorney’s Office will recommend the settlement.

It must be approved by the Jackson City Council.

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