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Jackson Zoo will keep accreditation

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Jackson Zoo will keeps it's accreditation. The decision comes after an appeals hearing was held earlier Wednesday in Memphis.  

The Association of Zoo and Aquariums that took away the accreditation back in September, but today's ruling says the zoo can keep its status. It's only the second time an appeal has been won in the history of the AZA board.     

At issue was the zoo's financial stability. The city of Jackson has increased yearly funding and is taking care of the zoo's debt. 

"We paid off all of our debt thanks in large part to our former mayor, our late mayor and the city council and our financial outlook is better, said Jackson Zoo Board President Eric Stracener. "Our attendance is up dramatically so they obviously took notice and have us a big thumbs up"

The city made a huge investment in Jackson's zoo. Under the late Mayor Lumumba's administration, the city invested 1.4 million dollars. Local fundraisers also helped with the debt.

 "Mayor Lumumba made that a specific priority for his administration, understanding the value of the zoo, the value that it brought to the city of Jackson the value that it brings to West Jackson," said Safiya Omari Chief of Staff of the late Mayor Lumumba Administration.

 Some people felt the zoo's surrounding West Jackson neighborhood was adding to the hardships it was experiencing. However, city leaders says a huge push to revitalize that area is in the works.

 "The zoo corridor is going to be one of our major corridors to revitalize," said Councilman De'Keither Stamps. "That's one of the things we are doing with our 1 percent sales tax and our consent degree improvement is fixing the corridor." 

The zoo has to give a progress report in six months and again in a year. It's accreditation will last through Sept of 2016.

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