Jackson will soon have the federal permission needed to reopen the Jackson Zoological Park.
Lumumba administration officials say they have been approved for a temporary exhibitor’s license through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The license is expected to be in place by Friday, July 24, and will be for 60 days, according to Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine.
“We had a meeting with the USDA and they have approved a temporary license,” he said.
The license is required for the city to reopen the park to the public, which it hopes to do on a limited basis in August.
However, an exact date on when the zoo would reopen had not been set.
Meanwhile, the USDA still must conduct a site visit at the facility, to ensure the zoo meets all USDA specifications.
The zoo is located on West Capitol Street. Earlier this year, USDA outlined a list of 30 or so items that needed to be addressed before the agency would allow the park to reopen to the public.
At the time this story was posted, USDA has not determined when it will visit the West Jackson park, citing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
If the visit does not take place within the next 60 days, the city will seek to have the temporary permit extended, Blaine said.
The news comes after the city has spent months working to make improvements to the park, all of which were required by the USDA before it would grant Jackson a permit.
Some of that work included painting animal enclosures, installing new air conditioning at exhibits, and removing trees and shrubbery from around the park’s perimeter fencing.
“They’ve done a lot of work at the zoo and we’re very proud of the work that’s gone on,” Blaine said.
Additional work at the park is slated for this weekend, according to a Jackson Zoo news release.
Jackson is also moving forward in efforts to sign a new management firm.
Blaine said the administration also hopes to the ZoOceanarium Group in place August, to coordinate the firm's hiring with a "soft reopening."
The city has been in talks with the Dubai-based company for more than a year. Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told local media previously that the city had reached an "oral agreement" with ZoOceanarium. However, he did not know when he would take a contract to the city council for consideration.
Any new management agreement would have to be approved by the city council.
The park was previously managed by the Jackson Zoological Society. The administration did not extend that contract, and the zoo closed October 1 after the society's exhibitor's permit expired.