As summer temperatures continue to rise in Mississippi, so does anticipation for the opening of the Hattiesburg Zoo’s newest exhibit.
Serengeti Springs, an interactive water park for the whole family, is currently under construction with a tentative opening date this September.
The idea of Serengeti Springs arose from a need for a fun place to cool off as the zoo’s splash pads had becoming “standing room only” every summer. Initially, there were plans to develop another splash pad at the rear of the zoo, but after some extensive research and analysis of other zoos around the country, it was determined that the incorporation of waterparks had proven successful for many other larger zoos such as Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
“Serengeti Springs will offer continued growth to the wonderful Hattiesburg Zoo,” Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission, said. “It will provide additional revenue opportunities for the zoo to continue with animal habitat developments like the Africa Expansion which opened in 2021.”
Even though construction isn’t finished yet, the $10.5 million project has already been recognized worldwide by Bluloop, which highlights some of the top water parks, theme parks, and aquariums around the world. Serengeti Springs is in very impressive company as Bluloop focused on such attractions as Disney and some of the larger parks across Europe and Asia.
The waterpark will be an impressive attraction to the area and will offer plenty of ways to beat the Mississippi heat. There will be a Fusion Fortress Water Play Structure with an entry building housing gift shops and showers. For those looking to relax, guests will love the 150,000-gallon lazy river, the swim-up pool and bar, group pavilions, cabanas, and comfortable lounge chairs.
There will also be nine slides of various heights and thrills with several water play areas and two bucket sump stations for the little ones. The water park is an extension of the Hattiesburg Zoo’s Africa section and will feature animals that live there. There will also be special animal presentations with tropical friends of the zoo.
“The Fusion Fortress will delight the young and the young at heart,” Taylor said. “For those looking for a bit more relaxation, the Lazy River will offer a cool relaxing drift away from the high adventures of the slides, and has a little ‘exit pool’ for those adults looking for a Margarita, Pina Colada, or the libation for their time in the sun.”
There were plans for the water park to officially open on Memorial Day this year, but due to setbacks from the rainy weather and supply change issues, the opening has been pushed back a few times.
“We are currently on a race to the end of summer,” Taylor said. “We’d love to able to open in very later summer, possibly September, but if we have any more delays, the opening of the park will be pushed to spring of 2024.”
Taylor greatly appreciates the support and positive response of the community for the highly anticipated grand opening.
“The community is very excited about this, and I might add, very understanding and patient with our delays,” Taylor said. “We hear weekly about the community’s excitement and often get words of encouragement concerning the delays.”
There is no doubt that the opening of this fabulous park is eagerly awaited as it is sure to bring plenty of positives to the community.
“Serengeti Springs will bring so much to Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas,” Taylor said. “It will bring a cool, relaxing way to make it through our hot, humid summers here in South Mississippi. With the Zoo drawing visitors from about a 100-mile radius, we anticipate that some of our out-of-town families will spend a day at the Zoo and then a day at Serengeti Springs.”