Zoo records highest attendance in 15 years
The North Carolina Zoo recorded its highest calendar year attendance in 15 years in 2012.
Attendance for the recently completed 12-month period reached 761,964 visitors, the highest total since 1997, when 764,720 were recorded. In addition, 2012 ranked as the fifth-highest attendance calendar-year total in park history.
“This means that the zoo had more visitors which means, hopefully, that we also generated some more income, which is always important to keep the operation going,” said Rod Hackney, zoo communications specialist. “We hope that this means that the zoo is increasing in popularity.”
The highest record ever recorded was 840,410 in 1995, on the heels of the grand opening of the zoo’s second continental exhibit region, North America.
Zoo officials credit several factors for the increased numbers in 2012, including the popularity of “Dinosaurs,” a temporary exhibit featuring 15 animatronic replicas of the creatures. The park also saw the arrival of several noteworthy newborns, including a baby chimp in January, a baby giraffe in July and two baby gorillas in August.
“Visitors are always attracted by babies. The gorilla births were a major accomplishment nationally, and to have two born within a month is highly unlikely,” Hackney said. “These things, along with some cooperative weather, led us to one of our best years ever.”
The gorilla deliveries marked the second and third births of the highly endangered primates in N.C. Zoo history, with the first occurring 23 years earlier.
Hackney said the zoo is optimistic that this year will be just as good as 2012.
“We are bringing back the “Dinosaurs” exhibit with different species. We are bringing back one of the polar bears and will be reopening our Kidzone exhibit,” Hackney said. “There are several things that we have coming up that we hope will get people to return.”
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