AKRON, Ohio - The Akron Zoo has set a new all-time annual attendance record, surpassing its 2008 record on Nov. 30 by 107 visitors.
Officials there say several factors contributed to the success, but perhaps the biggest was the May opening of the Journey to the Reef exhibit.
Through the end of November, 329,060 people have come through the zoo gates and there's still several weeks left in the year. For the first time in the zoo's history, they expect to see more than 330,000 people.
The last time the zoo set an attendance record was 2008 with the opening of Jellies: Rhythm in the Blue. The temporary jellyfish exhibit was so popular that the zoo kept it open through last year. Because of its popularity, the zoo incorporated some jellyfish species into Journey to the Reef, which also included an octopus, lion fish, eels, clownfish, a sting ray touch tank and more.
"We are very proud that we have been able to provide a place of enjoyment and education for so many people of our community. We have been listening and working hard to provide the kind of zoo our community wants to see and it is so rewarding to see the community responding to the efforts of our staff and volunteers," said zoo president and CEO L. Patricia Simmons.
In addition to the opening of Journey to the Reef, the zoo also welcomed, for the first time in their history, two endangered snow leopard cubs, born in May and on exhibit since mid-August. Also born this year at the zoo were two endangered Humboldt penguins.
Construction is well under way for the zoo's next project, The Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge, which will open in the summer of 2013. Grizzly Ridge will include grizzly bears, red wolves, coyotes, otters, eagles, an aviary and more.
The Akron Zoo is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter. Admission is $6 per person. Children under two are free. Parking is $2.
For more information visit www.akronzoo.org or call (330) 375-2550.