While Mississippi is well-known for its delectable southern cuisine, iconic blues music, and impeccable hospitality, it’s also home to a diverse population of wildlife that you won’t see anywhere else. This state features several rare and endangered species, like the sandhill crane and sawback turtle, that are sure to grab everyone’s attention.
Although the zoos serve as an incredible tourist attraction, their main purpose is to educate the greater public about native and foreign species. In doing so, they can showcase the wonders of the wildlife and encourage others to preserve its natural splendor for future generations.
In this article, we’ll break down the best ways to visit zoos in Mississippi and which ones you need to visit.
The Best Zoos in Mississippi
There’s a great big world to discover in the state of Mississippi, and these zoos are the best places to visit if you want a glimpse of the state’s interesting and wonderful wildlife.
Located in the historical city of Hattiesburg, the Hattiesburg Zoo spans an impressive 14 acres of land and surrounds the city’s Kamper Park. It’s home to more than 50 species of animals from all over the world, and there is a broad spectrum of exciting attractions that you and your friends or family are sure to enjoy. If you’re interested, you can visit Hattiesburg Zoo from 10 AM to 4 PM on Tuesdays through Sundays for a minimal admission fee.
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll be immersed in the fascinating sights and captivating experiences. Some of the attractions you can participate in include:
- Mining Expedition: The Mining Exhibition, located at the High Ropes Adventure Course, allows you to mine for gems and collect treasures.
- Adventure Course: If you and your friends or family are adrenaline junkies who enjoy a good outdoor adventure, this attraction is for you. It features a four-story obstacle course designed to challenge and excite you, and it’s perfect for visitors of all ages. If you have kids, it’s a great adventure to tackle together!
- Australian Wallaby Walkabout: With this attraction, you can transport yourself to the great Australian outback and immerse yourself with their native animals. You can meet and pet some of Australia’s cutest furry friends, like the wallaby, emu, and KuneKune pig.
- “Touch Africa” Petting Zoo: Take a trip to the African safari as you seize an unforgettable opportunity to get up close and personal with some African animals. These include Miniature Zebus, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, and Tunisian Sheep. Your kids are sure to love meeting these friendly animals.
- Sloth Experience: Have you ever wondered how sloths live? The Sloth Experience takes you through the everyday life of these lethargic creatures.
You can enjoy these attractions and more when you head over to Hattiesburg Zoo at 107 South 17th Avenue in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The Jackson Zoo, located in Jackson Mississippi, was established back in 1919. Its 225 animals represent over 110 different species, and it’s visited by over 85,000 visitors from the surrounding area every year. What makes it so attractive among guests is that it serves as a living classroom where children and wildlife enthusiasts can learn more about animal life and various ways to preserve it.
Their animal collection spans across many diverse groups of species, ranging from mammals and birds to reptiles, fish, and insects. Some notable creatures you can find here include sugar gliders, orangutans, chinchillas, wild boars, black bears, and klipspringers.
Besides these, you can also see 11 endangered species that are being conserved and protected in this park. These include the black-haded spider monkey, cotton top tamarin, grevy’s zebra, chimpanzee, pygmy hippo, sumatran tiger, red ruffed lemur, reticulated giraffe, white-handed gibbon, and asiatic black bear.
While they’ve done several conservation projects in the past, the Jackson Zoo is planning a new exhibit called Lory Landing that will feature at least 30 lorikeet parrots. Once the project is ready to launch, interested participants can walk through the enclosure and feed the birds. Sounds fun!
You can enjoy the above and more when you head over to Jackson Zoo at 2918 West Capitol Street in Jackson, Mississippi.
Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo
Located in Tupelo City, Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo spreads over 210 acres of land and boasts over 250 animals. To get the best experience possible in this zoo, you can check it out in style. You and your friends or family can hop aboard a monster bison bus or a trolley to see all of the different wildlife, such as the water buffalo, giraffes, zebras, bears, tigers, lions, kangaroos, and wallabies.
If you’re lucky enough, you can even meet some of the famous animals in the park, like Tall Boy, the 19 foot tall Giraffe, and Oliver, a renowned Capuchin monkey who has made it to global newspapers. Other interesting features about the park that you and your friends or family are sure to love include the petting zoos and pony rides.
If you have kids, they’ll certainly love the chance to pet and feed friendly animals like sheep, goats, and deer. If your kid loves horses, they can even fulfill their dreams by enjoying a fun little pony ride across the pastures. There are also other outdoor activities, such as the zipline and the fort, to keep your child entertained. There’s so much you can do at Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, so make sure every minute of your visit is worthwhile!
Tips for Visiting Mississippi Zoos
Before you visit the best zoos in Mississippi, you first need to plan your trip. That way, you can ensure maximum comfort and fun for you and your whole family or group of friends. So, without further ado, here are some tips you need to keep in mind while planning your zoo outing.
- Go on a Weekday – Whenever possible, don’t schedule your zoo visits on a weekend. It’s sure to be packed with people from Friday afternoon to the end of the weekend, and you’ll end up spending more time lining up in queues for attractions than actually seeing them. Visiting on a weekday means you’ll be seeing less crowds and you’ll benefit from easier navigation around the park.
- Go early – Zoos are notoriously huge, and you need all the time you can get to see all of the areas in one day. Get there as early as you can so you can be sure to see everything.
Prioritize the Biggest Attractions
- As a pro tip, be sure to prioritize the biggest attractions, like animal feeding and picture-taking. These are sure to get crowds flocking early on, so you’ll have a hard time getting to them if you wait until the last minute. Before you know it, you will have missed out on a great opportunity for you and your friends or family. When you plan out your zoo adventure, make it a point to visit these attractions before heading to the other sections of the park.
Hopefully one or more of the attractions mentioned above have caught your attention and inspired you to explore the great outdoors of Mississippi. Each zoo features unique exhibits that allow you and your friends or family to immerse yourselves in the wonders of the animal kingdom. From buffalos and big lions to chimpanzees and Australian wallabies, there’s sure to be something that you and everyone you’re with will enjoy.
Whether you’re a resident of Mississippi or you’re just dropping by, be sure to add these zoos to your plans! There won’t be a single dull minute of your visit, and you’ll be surprised by the discoveries you can make along the way.