Ten thousand, four hundred fifty-seven: that is how many people have to walk through the gates of the Palm Beach Zoo between now and the end of the day on September 30, 2013, to help the Zoo set a new attendance record by the end of its fiscal year. With 304,015 guests attending last year, staff is hoping more people will come by that deadline to help the Zoo make history. The Zoo is now making a call to action, asking the public to visit and help build on a wild legacy, more than sixty years in the making.
“We thank the many people who have been coming to the Zoo and supporting our mission,” said Andrew Aiken, President and CEO of the Zoo. “As a non-profit organization, we rely on attendance to continue operations. We are hoping this will be another year for the record books, because the more our attendance grows, the more we have an opportunity to educate the public about conservation.”
The consistent growth in guest numbers has been spurred by several factors, including pleasant weather, brand-new events that offer additional visiting hours, baby animals born at the Zoo, new attractions and a passionate focus by staff on spreading awareness of the Zoo’s mission.
“Many of our guests travel to West Palm Beach just to come to the Zoo, to experience a fun family outing,” said Aiken. “Our ultimate goal is to inspire our guests to act on behalf of wildlife. If we can bring them in with an enjoyable experience, we hope they can connect with the animals they meet, and learn ways to value the natural world.”
In March, the Zoo set records for “best day” and “best month” attendance during the week of Spring Break. The best single day on record was March 26, 2013 with 3,348 guests. For the month of March 2013, 44,641 guests came through the gates. When the original Zoo opened in 1951, it was known as Dreher Park Zoo. Today, the Palm Beach Zoo has exceeded the dreams of that original visionary, becoming one of the largest tourist attractions in Palm Beach County and a respected haven for endangered species.
Officials hope offering even more events through the month of September will help top the previous record from the year before. Activities include the following:
- Food Truck Safari -- September 14 & 28, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Several of South Florida’s most popular food trucks will be parked throughout the Zoo. From savory sandwiches to loaded hot dogs, the Food Truck Safaris are great opportunities to try flavorful food while roaming among the animals. Admission is $9 for adult members, $10 for adult non-members, $6 for children members, $7 for children non-members and children under three get in free.
- Teddy Bear Affair – September 21, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animal to this “bear-y” special event. The Zoo’s veterinary team will be available to perform check-ups on furry, stuffed friends, while zookeepers will educate visitors on bear conservation. Regular admission.
- Safari Nights – September 13, 20 & 27, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Zoo comes alive at night, with each Friday evening featuring a different family-friendly theme, special entertainment and children-focused activities. Safari Nights are always free for current Zoo members. Non-member pricing is $15.95 for adults, $9.95 for children (3-12) and children under three are free.
More information on special events is found on http://www.palmbeachzoo.org/special-events.
“We are thrilled that so many people are enjoying the Palm Beach Zoo,” said Aiken. “We are grateful that with all of the support, we can continue to provide a unique experience for years to come.”