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Hattiesburg Zoo: A Hidden Gem in the Hub

Updated on September 13, 2015
Gina Welds-Hulse profile image

International Travel Writer and Photographer who considers herself a global citizen, sharing the world with her readers through her travels.

A little history....

The 40 acres for Kamper Park was donated to the Daughters of the Confederacy by John Kamper in 1902, and was given in turn to Hattiesburg in 1908 for a public park. The zoo was opened on about 12 acres of the 40-acre park in 1950.

Hattiesburg Zoo

What you will see!

The zoo is located within Kamper Park among a grove of oak and pine trees. Upon entering the Zoo, visitors pass through a promenade that contains Prairie dogs and leads to the Africa section. The Africa are contains, servals, zebras, ostrichs antelope, and monkeys. In the, South American exhibit you will find capybaras, tapirs, iguanas, jaguars, and howler monkeys. The tiger boardwalk gives a close view of American alligators.

Kamper Park has landscaped walking trails, tennis courts, grassy picnic areas, and playgrounds.

Hours: 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday

Prices:

Admission:

Children under 2 FREE

Children 2 through 12 $5.00

Adults $5.00

Rides & Services:

Train ticket $2.00

Carousel $2.00

Stroller rental $5.00

Parking FREE

Entrance of the zoo

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Let's go to the zoo!

On a recent blistering hot afternoon, hugged in humidity, we decided to take a break from College dorm preparations and visit the local zoo. As we passed through the entrance we were met by these beautiful metal sculptures. My son pondered the idea of climbing onto the back of a metallic goat the entrance to the Hattiesburg Zoo, but changed his mind when he touched it and felt the heat emanating from it.

The Hub

Hattiesburg Zoo is located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This area is affectionately called the Hub.....

It is also home to the University of Southern Mississippi, my Alma Mater.

Train ride throughout the Zoo

We were just a few of the visitors that day as the temperature reached a whopping 100 degrees.
We were just a few of the visitors that day as the temperature reached a whopping 100 degrees. | Source
Carousel, seen from inside the train
Carousel, seen from inside the train | Source
Waiting for the train
Waiting for the train | Source

Other Attractions

  • Asbury Discover Center
  • Carousel
  • Train ride around the zoo
  • Concession stand
  • Gift shop
  • Splash Pad
  • Parris Jewelers Mining Sluice
  • African Drum Station
  • Touch Africa Petting Zoo

Asbury Discovery Center

We simply just had to peek inside the Asbury Discovery Center. The animals in the glass containers beckoned us. Every nook of the classroom is filled with hidden surprises. If you play nice, some of them may even come out to play!

Asbury Discovery Center

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Splash Pad

Although we did not come prepared for water play, it was so hot that day that Nicholas was nearly dried by the time we left to go home.
Although we did not come prepared for water play, it was so hot that day that Nicholas was nearly dried by the time we left to go home. | Source
These cooling machines made the trip to the Hattiesburg Zoo in 100 degree weather much more enjoyable.  The staff really does everything to make sure you have a pleasant visit.
These cooling machines made the trip to the Hattiesburg Zoo in 100 degree weather much more enjoyable. The staff really does everything to make sure you have a pleasant visit. | Source

African Drum Station

Nicholas and Siobhan enjoying a drum session at the African Drum Station!
Nicholas and Siobhan enjoying a drum session at the African Drum Station! | Source

Live from the African Drum Station

Meet Mo!

Mo, the two-toed sloth
Mo, the two-toed sloth | Source

Growth!

The Hattiesburg Zoo has certainly grown since I was a student at USM. In the last year alone, Hattiesburg zoo has welcomed Sumatran tigers, Kune-Kune pigs, a giant anteater and one of its biggest hits, Mo, a two-toed sloth.

Visiting Africa: Zebra

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Still Strolling through Africa

Display in one of the cooling off spots.
Display in one of the cooling off spots. | Source
Mom, enough with the pictures already!
Mom, enough with the pictures already! | Source
Mom, what is that??
Mom, what is that?? | Source

Visiting Africa: Elands

Eland, The common eland, also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa.
Eland, The common eland, also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa. | Source

Visiting Africa: Emu

Emu
Emu | Source

Behind-the-scenes look

We were very blessed that day to be able to go behind the scenes and see some attractions up close. Nicholas had a blast.

Private Behind-the-Scenes Tour

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Visiting Tibet: Prayer flags

A prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes.

Visiting Tibet: Prayer Flags

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I was especially drawn to this area, as I also have these hanging in my backyard at home.  I love the idea behind these prayer flags, although I do not practice the religion.
I was especially drawn to this area, as I also have these hanging in my backyard at home. I love the idea behind these prayer flags, although I do not practice the religion. | Source
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Prayer flags
Prayer flags | Source
Watching the tigers from the tower
Watching the tigers from the tower | Source

The Tigers

The Hattiesburg Zoo announced the addition of two Sumatran Tigers to the Zoo’s animal collection Saturday, March 8 during a public unveiling.

The male siblings were born on August 6, 2011 at the Los Angeles Zoo and given the names Kuasa and Cinta. Today, the tigers each weigh more than 200 lbs and are much smaller than the Zoo’s existing Siberian tiger, Tigger.

Visiting Tibet: The Tigers

Buddha at the entrance to Tibet
Buddha at the entrance to Tibet | Source
The eyes of this tiger glistened when the flash went off.
The eyes of this tiger glistened when the flash went off. | Source
Cooling off!
Cooling off! | Source
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Flamingos and Swans at the Hattiesburg

The playground was placed in a very strategic location...right beside the Chilean flamingo and swan exhibit. I thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures of their graceful nature as my children romped in the playground nearby.

Visiting Chile: Chilean Flamingos and Swans

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Time to play!

After spending the afternoon outdoors visiting with our favorite animals, it was time to cool off in the Splash Pad! With more than 30 jets shooting up to 14 feet in the air and plenty of space for everyone, the Splash Pad was the perfect ending to a hot but fun-filled day at the Zoo. I was able to sit by and enjoy the excitement from a nearby, splash-free 2,400 sq. foot shade structure with free Wi-Fi and convenient access to a variety of refreshments just a few steps away in the concession stand

Time to PLAY!!

Splash pad
Splash pad | Source
Nailed it at the Splash pad!
Nailed it at the Splash pad! | Source
Look out for the giant insects!  Oh wait...that's the playground!
Look out for the giant insects! Oh wait...that's the playground! | Source
Caught in the Spider Web!  I wonder what that spider looks like!
Caught in the Spider Web! I wonder what that spider looks like! | Source
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Wheeeee!
Wheeeee! | Source
Our private patio??
Our private patio?? | Source
Time to go!
Time to go! | Source

Other sights around the Zoo

Galapagos tortoise
Galapagos tortoise | Source
Peacock
Peacock | Source
At the Discovery Area
At the Discovery Area | Source
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Black-tailed prairie dog
Black-tailed prairie dog | Source
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Tapir
Tapir | Source

Treasures

We were told by the train conductor that we picked the perfect day to visit, as the peacocks had been shedding feathers. He disappeared into his office and returned with a few treasures for Nicholas.

Treasures

Nicholas received his first of many peacock feathers collected that day on the visit to Hattiesburg Zoo.
Nicholas received his first of many peacock feathers collected that day on the visit to Hattiesburg Zoo. | Source

Peacock at the Hattiesburg Zoo

The peacock was a frequent sight around the grounds of the Zoo.
The peacock was a frequent sight around the grounds of the Zoo. | Source
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Time to go!

After a glorious visit to the tiny gem, Hattiesburg Zoo, it was time to go, but I believe it deserves two hands up. Great family zoo for a short family visit.

If you're in town for a football at USM or just passing through on your way to New Orleans, it is definitely worth a stop. The staff are very friendly, and are constantly working to improve the facilities to make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

We will definitely be back!

Where it's located!

So tell me what you think!!

What do you think about Hattiesburg Zoo?

See results

The Gears at Hattiesburg Zoo

Make Hattiesburg Zoo Your Next Adventure!

© 2015 Gina Welds Hulse

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