Ongoing problems for the Jackson Zoo led the Jackson City Council to approve increasing the zoo’s budget by $120,000 earlier this month.
The funds were needed to pay for $30,000 for feed for the animals, $60,000 for maintenance of a permanent exhibitor’s license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $16,000 for fiber optics and $14,000 for recurring monthly payments such as veterinary bills.
Securing the license from the U.S.D.A. was said to be among the final steps necessary before The zoOceanarium, a Dubai-based firm, could take over management of the zoo.
That never happened because The zoOceanarium pulled out of negotiations in April.
The zoo, located at 2918 W. Capitol St., is run by the city of Jackson. It was previously managed by the Jackson Zoological Society, which saw the zoo’s steady decline.
The zoo is open to the public Thursday through Sunday, with some precautions in place due to COVID-19.
In recent years, the zoo has experienced a steep decline in attendance and in revenues. Things had gotten so bad that in July 2019, the society approached the city council saying it would need an additional $200,000 in city funding to keep the park open past Aug. 16, 2019.
Citing the decline, the city opted not to renew the society’s contract, which expired on Oct. 1, 2019, at the start of the current fiscal year. Zoo staffers were maintained as contractual employees to care for animals and maintain facilities.