From an NC Zoo media release of this a.m.: "Spurred by enhanced marketing efforts, a new children’s exhibit and gasoline prices that are keeping Piedmont travelers closer to home, the North Carolina Zoo’s annual attendance reached its highest mark in a decade for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007.
"Final figures for FY ‘06-‘07 showed 746,650 visitors had passed through the zoo gates, an increase of more than 63,000 or 9.3 percent over the previous fiscal year. The most recent fiscal year saw the zoo record its highest annual attendance since FY ‘96-‘97 when the total reached 782,016.
"Overall, FY ‘06-‘07 also ranks as the fourth highest annual attendance mark in the zoo’s 33-year history. The single year record of 934,455 was set during FY ‘94-’95 and was largely due to the grand opening of the zoo’s second continental region, North America, with a large number of new exhibits.
"Zoo officials attribute this year’s increased attendance to a variety of factors, including a strengthened commitment to destination marketing and coordination with statewide tourism efforts. According to marketing officer Chris Bulla, the zoo has worked more closely with regional partners to reinforce the park as central North Carolina’s premier opportunity for families to gather and experience the wonders of the world's wildlife.
"Increased gasoline prices have fueled more day trips closer to home by in-state residents, Bulla observed, while visitors with less recreational time and disposable income chose the zoo to take double advantage of an affordable attraction with educational value for the entire family. An improved Web site and expanded internet presence, increased distribution of “The Zoo FileZ” syndicated television series, an expanded special events calendar, the birth of three lion cubs and the unveiling of an endangered species carousel were other factors that helped boost attendance, she said.
"The zoo also ranked as one of the state’s leading experiences for school children over the past year as more than 110,000 students visited the park in class field trips. These included nearly 104,000 North Carolina students who attended free of charge. The zoo focused even more on younger visitors this spring with the opening of the “kidZone,” an interactive exhibit designed to put small children in touch with wildlife and the natural world. It features “Tort” and “Retort,” a pair of Galapagos tortoises that were the first animals ever purchased by the zoo making a limited return appearance through October."
NC Zoo Society members made 168,794 of the 746,650 visits, an increase of 27,525 and a significant 19.5%.