JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is breaking records when it comes to this years' attendance. The zoo's attendance reached the all-time high of 801,642 for its fiscal year ending September 30, 2012. This is an increase of 49,700 from the previous year.
"The staff here works really hard to make our Zoo and gardens something our community can be proud of," said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. "When we see record attendance like this, it really lets us know that the community recognizes what a great treasure we have here."
Butterfly Hollow, a seasonal exhibit, opened in March 2012. It has a big hit with guests from day one. The new exhibit closes the end of October, but will reopen annually during the warm months when butterflies thrive.
Another big attraction added this past year is the 4-D Ride Theatre featuring "Mumbles Wild Ride". This is an all-senses ride experience for people 42 inches tall and over.
On October 1, "Fun House", a new 4-D ride feature movie, was introduced-just in time for the Zoo's extremely popular Spooktacular event, scheduled for October 19-21 and 26-31. The ride feature movie will change again to "Polar Express" for the Zoo's first annual ZOOLights holiday event scheduled for December 14 through 31.
The Zoo's animal "baby boom" was also very popular with guests this past year. The new additions included two rare Amur leopard cubs, one lion cub, a giraffe calf, four rock pythons and three Marbled Teal. The Zoo also acquired two flamingo eggs from the National Zoo in Washington D.C. All animals are now on exhibit except for the lion cub. The cub's introduction into the Zoo's lion exhibit will be announced soon.