Kamper Park is comprised of 40 acres and was donated in 1908 by John Kamper to the children of Hattiesburg to enjoy as a public park. At the time of the donation, the land was located on the outskirts of town, but is now identified as a part of the Avenues, which is bordered by Hardy Street to the North, Park Avenue to the West, 17th Avenue to the East and Camp Street to the South. The zoo was opened and located on about 12 acres of the 40-acre park in 1950.
Over the last 72 years, the zoo has evolved from the original park, which housed a minimal number of animal exhibits to what it is today. The Hattiesburg Zoo is now a bustling attraction that welcomes more than 200,000 guests annually. The Zoo is home to more than 100 species of animals and offers its guests a multitude of adventurous activities and various learning opportunities which help guests better understand the importance of conservation and animal care.
In 2010 the Hattiesburg Convention Commission began managing the Hattiesburg Zoo and has proudly spent the past twelve years expanding, creating and acquiring new animal habitats, event spaces, dining opportunities, children play areas, animal care facilities, adventure opportunities and animal species.
The Splash Pad opened to the delight of children and parents alike.
The Zoo Animal Hospital and “Touch Africa” Petting Zoo opened.
The 2,200 sq ft Asbury Discovery Center opened to serve as a combined laboratory, classroom, and office space. This education center provides learning opportunities for both children and adults.
The Bug Hub created a space for young children to experience the world from the viewpoint of a bug.
Sculptors Eric Eaves and C G Lee created and donated the Miss Hattie sculpture, which stands in front of the Zoo’s ticket booth.
The Wallaby Walkabout opened to give guests a taste of the Australian Outback to get face-to-face with wallabies, emus, kunekune pigs and sheep.
Safari Grill opened, to the delight of Zoo guests. The grill is double the size of the previous concession stand.
The High Ropes Adventure Course opened the four-story ropes course, which allows both kids and adults the opportunity to enjoy this challenging experience.
Sculptor C G Lee donated the bronze sculpture of Tigger, which is located outside of the Tiger habitat.
Camp Capybara opened, which provided overnight adventures for groups wanting a nighttime Zoo experience.
The Africa Expansion was opened, and included the new giraffe barn, Ladha’s Cantina and rooftop special event space, an event pavilion, new restrooms, animal housing facilities, two reticulated giraffes, two hyenas, and two colobus monkeys. This year also welcomed two chacoan peccaries and a baby sloth.
In keeping with the Zoo’s commitment to conservation, the Zoo brought online its new all-electric train. The Zoo also welcomed a new cotton top tamarin, a baby sloth (born at the zoo), a baby colobus monkey (born at the zoo), ten species of exotic chickens and two Mandarin ducks.
The Hattiesburg Convention Commission is committed to the continued growth and improvement of the Hattiesburg Zoo as it strives to bring new opportunities and experiences to the Hattiesburg Zoo for our guests to enjoy.