HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Mississippi Tourism Association awarded the Hattiesburg Zoo with travel attraction of the year and Convention Commission Executive Director, Rick Taylor with member of the year award for his expertise and track record.
"Well I think it is a validation and an encouragement to keep going. It indicates that the industry recognizes it’s value to bringing visitors to the state of Mississippi. We certainly see it’s value of bringing people to Hattiesburg but also to our local community,” said Rick Taylor.
Over the past year, attendance increased over 20 percent and earned income over 30 percent. According to Taylor, the zoo made a profit for the first time in it's 68 year history.
“On October the 19, were going to open to exhibits and attractions and were kind of keeping that under wraps right now, but were very excited about that...Then in the winter, were going to open another attraction, or another exhibit on the back of the zoo,”
Taylor also received an award for his coupled expertise and long tradition of excellence. "It's a special passion to me, to do things, whatever it maybe, a museum, a zoo, a convention center with excellence with the kind of excellence that could be competitive anywhere in this nation,”
The zoo is now apart of an elite club, that hosts 11 percent of zoos worldwide that does not receive operating subsidy from government.