Traveling zoo provides entertainment and education during pandemic


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — To say Jackson Baugus loves animals may be an understatement. He owns fifty animals with 25 different species.

“They’re unique,” said the Chesapeake resident. “Every animal has its own unique personality and unique traits. It’s never boring with animals. There’s always something new. It’s never a routine.”

So naturally, Baugus wanted a career working with them and did so as an educator with the Virginia Zoo before being let go earlier this year due to the pandemic.

“I didn’t want to be a vet, so I was looking into other ways I could use animals in my career. I’ve always loved education and spreading the passion of other animals to people and decided to do this on my own,” he said.

“This” refers to Jack’s Jungle, a traveling zoo Baugus started up earlier this year. He says he always had the idea to start the business but it was never the right time — until now.

So, he outfitted a trailer to include 28 animal enclosures and gives a hands-on-presentation at birthday parties, camp grounds, and other events.

And business has been busy.

“People love it. I think a lot of people are tired of being at home and are ready to see something different, do something different. They’ve really enjoyed being able to be hands-on with the animals, doing something new while staying COVID-compliant,” he said.

During his presentation, Baugus says he often talks about proper care for the animals, husbandry, and conservation.

It means a lot to him to show off his crew because they all have their own unique stories.

“Some of them are rescues, probably about 75 percent are rescues, ” he said. “I like taking animals from bad situations or [that have] bad temperaments and working with them so they can be ambassadors for their species.”

Baugus says he always had the idea for “Jack’s Jungle” but it was never the right time until now. Everything moved so fast, like getting all the proper permits, once he decided to start up the traveling zoo.

To learn more about ‘Jack’s Jungle’, click here.

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