The Jackson Zoological Park has been a world-class zoo for 90 years, with over 200 species and 380 animals to its credit. It’s housed in the city’s historic Livingston Park and features the Elephant House Cafe, the Jackson Zoo Trading Company, a splash pad, a picnic ground, and rides on the Endangered Species Carousel and train. There is also a petting zoo, rainforest, African savannah, Mississippi wilderness exhibits and a South America aviary. Children especially find the zoo entertaining.
The African Rainforest sports a boardwalk in a dense jungle with seven chimpanzees and many monkeys throughout. The chimps include two males and five females and are separated into groups for safety purposes of both chimps and humans. A male and female family are in one group, and the other male and four females are in another group of chimps. Access to different parts of the rainforest alternates each day for the chimps as a means of enrichment. Also, in the rainforest is a vast lake with red-eared sliders, river cooters, and fish and two pygmy hippopotamuses.
Co-existing in the same environment are red-tailed guenon, colobus monkeys, and some deer. Also, in the rainforest are Diana monkeys, red river hogs, golden-bellied mangabeys, and rock hyraxes. A southern white rhinoceros lives in the open savannah section.
The Savannah contains antelope, birds, and reptiles. Also included are lechwe, gazelle, spur-winged geese, African spurred tortoises, zebra, cranes, and ostriches. The Savannah has a broad selection of species.
The city of Jackson purchased 79 acres from a man named Samuel Livingston in 1916, and three years later, city firefighters started collecting numerous animals from around the area, and they housed them in the central fire station. In 1921, they acquired some zebras, so the Livingston Park Zoo was established to care for the animals properly.
The Works Progress Administration contributed a lot of construction during the 30s, and many of those buildings are still being used today. More animals were added in 1948, including numerous rainforest species like chimpanzees, mangabey and colobus monkeys, a lemur, and two pythons. The zoo significantly expanded after World War Two.
A petting zoo was added in the 70s, as well as a hospital. The African Rainforest was installed in the mid-80s and accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums was added. In the mid-90s, about $6 million was spent in improvements to the African savannah and the wilderness exhibits. This project was the most significant expansion in the zoo’s extensive history.
An Endangered Species Carousel was installed in the mid-90s which allows kids to ride on zebras, leopards, giraffes, and tigers. In 2005, the African Savannah Exhibit was opened to the public for them to enjoy. The Gertrude C. Ford Education was opened about ten years ago and assists attendees in understanding the operations and displays at the zoo.