Sunday - September 23, 2018
Zoo Attendance HIts 20 Year High
Written by Staff   
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 15:36

ASHEBORO -- North Carolina Zoo officials saw a record number of guests —870,882 — pass through the entry gates during its 2016-17 fiscal year, which ended on June 30. This year’s total attendance exceeds last year’s by nearly 75,000 guests and is second only to the attendance record set during the Zoo’s 1994-95 fiscal year— the year when the Zoo opened its long-awaited North American region.

North America’s opening added 250 acres of natural habitats—abounding with polar, grizzly and black bears; elk, bison, cougars and other wildlife—to the Zoo’s then existing 250-acre expanse of habitats representing African wildlife.

While this year's mild winter temperatures likely helped boost Zoo attendance, the largest single explanation for this rise in popularity is the addition of a growing number of nature-based, educational experiences that appeal to a wide range of guests of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to providing one of the world’s most impressive series of encounters with wild animals living in natural settings, the North Carolina Zoo offers down-to-earth, authentic and memorable ways for families to play and stay together.

Last year the Zoo opened Zoofari, An African Wildlife Adventure, which takes guests on an open-air safari bus inside the 40-acre grassland habitat featuring African animals such as rhinoceros and antelope. For 2017, the Zoo expanded the popular Zoofari experience with tours at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon, Thursday–Sunday. New this year are the Dragonfly paddle boats on the scenic North America Lake, plus a Dino bus ride past some very big, very realistic robotic dinosaurs that lets guests settle back and enjoy the sights. Two enchanting playgrounds—one for toddlers and one for everyone else—can engage families for hours and connect kids to nature. Air Hike—which lets guests negotiate nature from the vantage point of the treetops—gives the Zoo’s more adventuresome guests an interesting physical challenge.

This year’s attendance totals also received a small boost from a minor change in the Zoo’s accounting practices. For the first time, the Zoo counted children younger than two years of age (total 40,997) in its attendance figures to more accurately reflect the number and the demographics of people enjoying the park. But, even if this demographic is subtracted from the year’s total, the Zoo still posted the second-highest attendance numbers in its history and the highest attendance numbers seen for more than two decades.

 
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