Lindsay: Zoo likely will have to close

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Even with the recent infusion of $200,000 from the city of Jackson, the Jackson Zoological Park will likely have to close, at least temporarily, according to one council member.

“Given the financial situation of the zoo, it’s likely the zoo will need to close for a period of time,” said Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay. “I don’t know where the money is going to come from to operate it fully over the next few months.”

Last week, the city council voted to give the zoo an additional $200,000, days after the Jackson Zoological Society cut pay for employees and after it was revealed that park officials had dipped into bond funds to make payroll.

The allocation is expected to help the zoo make ends meet until September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Any closure would not affect animal welfare, and zoo keepers would still be compensated to feed and care for the animals, city officials told the Sun previously.

The zoo has an annual budget of about $2.4 million. That amount comes from the city’s allocation, revenues from ticket sales and private contributions.

Since 2003, admissions at the zoo have dropped by around 85,000, with figures dipping further this year. Through July, attendance was down by around 15,000 year over year, Executive Director Beth Poff told the Sun previously.

Additionally, donations have dried up, as fewer major donors are willing to give to the park at its current location.

Said Lindsay, “The zoo has a three-pronged budget and two of those prongs are broken.”  

She didn’t know how long any closure would last, nor did she know when it would close.

Meanwhile, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s administration is expected to begin seeking a new management firm for the park this week.

The city has drawn up and request for proposals (RFP) to seek a new firm, but the document had not been posted on Jackson’s Web site at press time.

The park is currently managed by the Jackson Zoological Society. The society’s agreement with the city runs out on September 30.

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