HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The sounds of bulldozers and backhoes aren't what you'd expect to hear at the Hattiesburg Zoo. But, that's OK, according to local tourism officials, who say they are the sounds of much-needed progress.
"We're just excited to be a part of it and excited to hopefully, add some new attractions, some new interest from our local public, as well as our visitors," said Rick Taylor, executive director of Visit Hattiesburg, the organization which manages the zoo.
Several construction projects are underway this month and are due to be completed in the spring. They include a new education facility, an expansion of the zoo's gift shop, a splash pad for kids and a relocation of the zoo's carousel.
Zoo managers say these projects should make a visit to the zoo more enjoyable.
But, there are other projects to be completed in the coming months that could take the Hattiesburg Zoo to a whole new level. They include a quarantine facility and a new tiger holding area.
"The 2 key areas for accreditation are number one, a quarantine facility and number two, was tiger holding," said Taylor. "So, we're addressing those immediately. There are some other things as well that we've got to address, but they are smaller items and items that we are very optimistic that we can accomplish. These are construction projects, these two, so they have to be done and we're turning our attention to them first," Taylor said.
Even with the new quarantine and tiger holding area, Taylor says national accreditation for the zoo could still be a couple of years away.