Mississippi zoo raises $25,000 for new tiger exhibit

Special to the American

Nearly $25,000 was raised to fund the new lion and tiger exhibits at the Hattiesburg Zoo this past weekend.

The Hattiesburg Zoological Society’s White Tiger Encounter featured a special “paws-on” event with a pair of rare 7-week-old white tiger cubs Friday night and a public showing of the cubs Saturday and Sunday, with proceeds funding the zoo’s new multi-million dollar lion and tiger exhibits.

The project received a boost from the city of Hattiesburg as it pledged all admissions, gift shop, concessions and ride revenues collected during the weekend go toward the exhibit, while both ride operators at the park donated their share of their weekend profits.

“The response to this project has been phenomenal,” said Myra Myrick, president of the Hattiesburg Zoological Society. “No one wanted to see the cubs go home to Louisiana, but with such an outpouring of support, we hope it’s only a short time before we have cubs of our own here permanently.”

The rare and endangered cubs were visiting from the Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana, which said it would donate a pair of cubs to Hattiesburg once an exhibit is built. The Zoological Society will use the money collected this past weekend, as well as the $20,000 raised last week during ZooBoo, presented by Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, to contract for architectural design of the new exhibit, estimated to cost $3 million when complete.

“Our hope is to keep the momentum going by expediting the design process and finding grant and sponsorship monies to build the exhibit as soon as possible,” Myrick said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but judging by the smiles on the faces of everyone visiting this weekend, it’ll be well worth it.”

The Hattiesburg Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to the support and expansion of the Hattiesburg Zoo.

For more information or to make a donation, call the zoo at (601) 545-4576. E-mail the zoo at info@hattiesburgzoo.org.

Originally published November 6, 2006

NEWS01/61106017/1002

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