Hope Zoo was opened to the public in 1961 and was conceived as a Caribbean and Central American zoo. Its aim was to display as wide a variety of animals as possible. The Zoo until 2005 was owned and operated under the Central Government within the Public Gardens Division.
Inadequate funding and subsequent loss of the animal collection led to the overall deterioration of the facility and a decline in public interest. This combination of factors in 2005 paved the way for Central Government to start leasing the facility. In November 2011 the Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation (HZPF) assumed full management authority under the helm of Mr. Kenneth S. Benjamin OJ,CD,LLD(Hon.),JP as the executive chairman.
The Foundation has a not-for-profit with charitable status.
Our leadership team all come from diverse backgrounds but they have one thing in common – a passion and commitment for our planet’s wildlife conservation.
Rebecca Harper – General Manager
Mr. Milton Rieback – Head of Animal Department
Mr. Rovein Richards – Head of Operations
Chevelle James – Administrator
The Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation intends to closely follow a master plan which was commissioned through funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica. This plan was developed through international zoo architects and Ursa International. The concept revolves around the idea that the animal collection and its associated components are to tell a story that is relevant to the Jamaican experience.
Three areas emerged from the exhibit concept layout:
- Showcases local species, hopefully engendering pride and ownership for what is unique to us, but more importantly to give a quick insight into where we are now as a people.
- This is a reflection of our past and how those experiences have helped to shape us, influenced our food, folklore etc. This area includes the macrovertebrates such as the African lion and lioness, zebra and ostrich.
- This represents our journey here. It intends to mimic the experience of translocation for most Jamaicans by seeing animals from unknown areas. This will include many primate species such as exotic parrots etc.
Within this context Hope Zoo focuses on three key areas of its long term mission:
- Public education – through active and passive learning
- Conservation – working to protect our unique biodiversity
- Research and development – adopting and displaying current technology as it relates to environmental management to become innovators in wildlife management.
At the core is our ‘Tree House’ or the Tropical Learning Centre (TLC) which is an educational facility. Its aim is to educate the public on the conservation of the natural environment.
School groups will have the opportunity to attend structured multimedia presentations designed to support their existing curriculum and also to promote good environmental stewardship. Other activities include environmental-related workshops and lectures, our Traveling Petting Zoo to schools, guided tours, summer camps and field trips.
With critical issues such as global warming presently threatening our planet, innovative methods of generating cleaner energy and minimizing man-made pollutants are an ever-growing area of interest. With this in mind, the Tree House will play a role in informing the Jamaican public about the new advances in this field and also about practical solutions that can readily be adapted to the Jamaican environment. It will be critical that this facility act as an example and utilize environmentally-conscious approaches as it will have to take a lead in ushering in these technologies.
An endorsement of our work in education to promote green technology and also to inform wildlife management practices using information gained in the captive management of species. Efforts will include a research centre that focuses on key local species in need of conservation and the documentation of best practices, as well as development of husbandry standards