JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – City leaders say work should start soon to address concerns recently raised by federal inspectors at the Jackson Zoological Park.

In April, USDA inspectors cited the city for five non-compliant issues at the West Jackson facility, including “evidence of widespread rodent activity in shelter structures” and evidence of improper food storage.

“The storms that came through [in February and March] severely damaged the shed, which, in turn, damaged the chiller, which housed most of the food,” said Parks and Recreation Director Abram Muhammad.

Muhammad addressed several findings in the USDA report, but did not mention the klipspringer, which was killed after being put back into an exhibit with an aggressive zebra.

See Director Muhammed’s comments below:

Parks Director Abram Muhammad responds to a recent USDA report regarding the Jackson Zoological Park.

According to the report, the walk-in cooler was not working, with it being at 65 degrees Fahrenheit at the time of the inspection. The cooler is where perishable food, such as cut produce, prepared meals, and meat, is stored.

Muhammad said the city had to improvise, installing several refrigerators to house perishable items. Coolers also were brought in to store dry food, to ensure rodents would no longer be able to get into those items.

“Since then, we had another storm come through that caused more damage. But in between that time, we [had] already secured several vendors that have given us a quote, and we will start as early as next week in repairing the shed,” he said.

Muhammad went on to say that no animals were at risk of not being fed and no food was lost as a result of the damage.

The report also cited other issues, including safety concerns with the macaw exhibit, and concerns with the rusted doors at some primate enclosures. According to the report, a door is so rusted that it can no longer be properly cleaned.

“This door has been there for some time now, and it’s in need of repair,” he said. “We have secured two bids as well, and we are working within our budget to get that taken care of.”

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