HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Zoo has made marks in the tourism industry. It is now the Travel Attraction of the Year awarded by the Mississippi Tourism Association.
Before you even make it inside the park, tourists from Alabama, Texas and the magnolia state filled the parking spaces.
The success of the zoo following the Hattiesburg Convention Commission take over back in 2010 has made the award possible.
For the first time in 68 years the zoo is now a profitable operation. It is now apart of the elite club of only 11 percent of zoos across the world that do not receive any type of operating funding from the government.
Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, Rick Taylor, said guests are enjoying vibrant park and his team is excited about the continued success.
"It's a great zoo. We just notices the cabanas," Sarah Lynchard said. "They have new cabanas. Every time we come they have built something new. It's really great."
"It means a lot to us. We think it's a great quality of life attraction for all of Hattiesburg," Taylor said. "But, part of what we do is try to create attractions that draw people in from outside our area so they will leave their money in our economy."
, "Everybody comes here with their kids. We have come to some events they've had at night and at different times of the year," Emily Tynes said. "There is always something new going on so, it's a great place to come."
Expect to see some new attractions coming to the Hattiesburg Zoo.
"On October 19th we are going to open two new exhibits and attractions," Taylor added. "In November, our plan is for November, but it might take until December, we have another attraction that is going to excite the public. It excites us, so we are optimistic they will be excited too."