SEATTLE – Attendance at Woodland Park Zoo exceeded one million for the 11th consecutive year with 1,094,514 visitors, and private donations in 2011 were the highest since the zoo began operating as a private, non-profit in 2002.
“That’s one million individuals who passed through our gates to connect with the natural world and experience the wonder of wildlife,” said zoo President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen. “We’re always exploring new programs that engage the families of our region and inspire them to help ensure a sustainable future for wildlife and people locally and around the world.”
The zoo hopes to exceed those marks in 2012 as it brings in two exciting new species, and looks forward to completion of its More Wonder More Wild comprehensive fundraising campaign. “Because of the generous donations in 2011, the zoo has now raised $68.5 million toward the $80 million goal,” added Jensen.
The two new species are pigs from Asia and Africa: Visayan warty pigs, known as the punk rockers of the pig world because of their Mohawk-like manes, and warthogs. The exotic pigs will be showcased in two naturalistic exhibits evoking the endangered warty pigs’ fragile habitat in the Philippines and the warthogs’ arid savannas of East Africa. The exhibits, which will open this summer, will open year round and will be free with zoo admission.
Included in the $12.8 million fundraising total in 2011 was the largest challenge gift in the zoo’s history – a $4 million matching challenge to help the zoo build a new, state-of-the-art exhibit complex that will feature Malayan tigers, sloth bears, Asian small-clawed otters and tropical birds. The $19.6 million exhibit project – part of the zoo’s $80 million More Wonder More Wild Campaign – will replace the 60-year-old infrastructure that critically endangered tigers and Asian bears currently inhabit at the zoo. “The generosity and continued support of our donors and community will allow us to continue our important mission of saving wild animals and inspiring the public to join us in our effort,” noted Jensen. The zoo hopes to begin construction on the new exhibit in the fall.
To help offset increasing operating costs and continue the zoo’s exemplary animal care, engaging education programs and wildlife conservation projects around the world and locally, adults will see a 25-cent increase in their admission fee. Effective immediately, winter fees for adults are $11.75, and children ages 3 to 12 remain at $8.50. Beginning May 1, the summer season admission rates will be $17.75 for adults; the fee will stay at $11.50 for children and toddlers 2 and under are free.