The Idaho Falls Zoo shattered historic attendance numbers in the first month of opening to the public for the 2017 season.
A total of 33,744 guests entered the zoo’s gates in May which is over 6,000 more guests than the previous opening attendance record set in May 2009 at 27,707.
From mid-April, when the zoo opened, until the end of May the zoo has seen over 42,000 visitors. “That is equivalent to nearly the entire population of the City of Idaho Falls coming to the zoo in a month and a half!” exclaimed Executive Director David Pennock.
Zoo staff attributes a couple of things to the increased attendance. “Obviously the baby boom is a big draw,” explains Pennock. “We don’t have record of another year in the zoo’s 82-year history where we’ve had more babies born than this year. The African lion and sloth bear cubs have been particular favorites for our visitors.”
According to the zoo’s Curator of Education, Sunny Katseanes increased attendance is also due to new interactive experiences offered for zoo guests. The zoo staff and volunteers have put a special emphasis on making sure every guest that enters the zoo has a positive, educational, and interactive experience to connect them to the wildlife on our planet in a meaningful way.
“As you move through the zoo, you’ll find brightly colored flags and carts that identify Exploration Stations,” explains Katseanes. The stations, made possible by generous contributions from Fluor Idaho and the Cross Family Foundation, feature interactive experiences, educational items, and sometimes live animals. “Our goal is to bring science to life for zoo guests and share our passion for conserving wildlife and wild places,” adds Katseanes.
Throughout the day, zoo patrons have several opportunities to meet a zookeeper and learn fascinating information about the animals under their care. The daily schedule of zookeeper interactions is located on the zoo’s homepage.
Another major effort the zoo has focused on is an increase in marketing. You may have seen the “AROARable” and “UnBEARably” cute billboards and posters around town. The zoo also launched an Instagram account and YouTube channel.
To stay up-to-date on everything happening at the zoo, visit our website, and like and follow Idaho Falls Zoo on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.