Hattiesburg Zoo pushes back opening of new Africa area

Hattiesburg Zoo pushes back opening of new Africa area

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg Zoo is postponing the opening of the new Africa area until spring of 2021.

“We were very optimistic, not only going into the year, but even as we saw the pandemic come upon us," said Hattiesburg Convention Commission executive director Rick Taylor.

Taylor says they had hoped the pandemic would allow more time to be spent building the new enclosure, but they did not take into account the impact COVID-19 would have on zoo suppliers.

“As their supply chain began to slow down, they were unable to produce on the schedule that they had planned for a lot of specialty equipment," Taylor said. "It’s pushed everything back. We’ve had some challenges in dealing with just general space and some of the construction that needed to go on there.”

Taylor says another issue is getting the giraffe’s moved before colder weather set in.

“Giraffes are warm weather animals and cannot leave or travel in a container, in a truck, when it’s cold," Taylor said. "All of these things kind of converged and it was in our best recommendation to say look we’ve got to hold off and try to get this thing ready and move those animals the first of the spring.”

Taylor says he believes this is the best decision for guests as well as the animals.

“It saddens us to postpone it, but also, if we want to do it right and do it in a way that severs the animals the best, which is what we should do as a zoo, and also our guests, then we’re going to have to delay a few months," Taylor said.

The new exhibits will house giraffes, hyenas, servals, lemurs and De Brazza’s monkeys. It also will house a new cantina and a special events pavilion.

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