2013 was another history-making year for Zoo Atlanta
Monday, January 13, 2014
One of the wettest years on record didn’t dampen attendance or a notable number of births
ATLANTA – January 13, 2014 – Despite one of the wettest years ever recorded in Atlanta, 2013 was one of Zoo Atlanta’s best-attended years ever, suggesting a trend of continued growth and increased public interest.
The year’s attendance of over 850,000 joins 2012’s turnout as one of the Zoo’s highest-attended years in recorded history. Attendance by Zoo Atlanta Members also exceeded expectations. Zoo Atlanta Membership showed strong growth, with Membership ending the year 10 percent over the previous year.
“Were proud to have been able to close another year ahead of our expectations in both our general attendance and Zoo Member attendance, and we hope to see these trends continue in 2014 and beyond,” said Dwight Lawson, PhD, Director. “These are two of our primary generators of operating support for animal care, guest experience, education programs and conservation initiatives, so we’re delighted to continue to outperform our own expectations.”
Foremost among 2013 highlights were a historic and extraordinary number of Zoo babies representing some of the zoological community’s highest-profile and most endangered species. New arrivals included Pongo the Sumatran orangutan, memorably reunited with his mother, Blaze, following three months of hard work and persistence on the part of animal care professionals and volunteers; Jabari, the first black rhino calf ever born at Zoo Atlanta; Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; Andi and Anaka the western lowland gorillas; an as-yet-unnamed Bornean orangutan infant; three golden lion tamarins; and four African lion cubs.
Bird hatchlings included a wreathed hornbill, Victoria crowned pigeon and Toco toucans. The Herpetology Department welcomed a critically endangered flowerbacked box turtle and Guatemalan beaded lizards. Zoo Atlanta holds the world’s only zoological collection of Guatemalan beaded lizards and is rapidly becoming a leader in the successful reproduction of this species, which is found only in Guatemala’s Motagua Valley. Much of this success is a result of field conservation programs that have allowed Zoo staff to observe the reproductive habits of wild lizards.
Other highlights of the year included the opening of the all-new Splash Fountain, an interactive water play experience presented by the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, and the official groundbreaking of a new amphibian and reptile experience, opening in early 2015 at the conclusion of the largest fundraising campaign in the Zoo’s history. The experience will replace the World of Reptiles, which is the oldest building on Zoo grounds still used for public exhibits.
The year’s events also drove considerable growth across the Zoo’s social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Growth included an increase of more than 37,000 followers on Facebook; 8,500 on Twitter; and more than 500,000 on Google+, which now has more than 1 million +1s.
Anticipated events of 2014 include the debut of Kiki’s lion cubs, expected to make their first appearances sometime this month, and the departure of giant pandas Xi Lan, 5, and Po, 3, for their new home in China. Zoo Atlanta will also continue and expand its reputation for special events for people of all ages, including two new events. On April 6, Zoo Atlanta will open early to families with children on the autism spectrum at Zoos Go Blue, a program developed through partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and Autism Speaks. In June, the Zoo will host Art Gone Wild, a showcase of the animals, botanicals and scenery of the Zoo through the eyes of local artists. The two new events will join established signature events such as The Beastly Feast, Brew at the Zoo, Jazzoo and Boo at the Zoo.
“We can look at 2012, which was an extremely successful year, and see a year that was characterized almost exclusively by wonderful weather, but 2013 tells us something else entirely,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “We had a summer where it rained in many cases almost daily, but we were still able to close the year not just on plan but ahead of plan. The past few years have offered us some very encouraging and exciting trends, and we look forward to continued responsible growth. The year to come will benefit from the historic number of signature babies on exhibit, and 2015 will see the opening of the new amphibian and reptile experience.”
Stay tuned for updates on animals, programs and events at Zoo Atlanta.