July 10, 2008

Minnesota Zoo Reports Highest Attendance in Nine Years

By Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, Minneapolis

Jul. 10--The Minnesota Zoo had its highest attendance in nine years, drawing more than 1.162 million visitors for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Memberships hit a new record, with 36,538 households representing more than 150,000 people.

Zoo officials attribute the jump in attendance and membership to last year's renovations to the Medtronic Minnesota Trail and its new $23.5 million "Russia's Grizzly Coast" exhibit, which opened June 7.

The blockbuster exhibit featuring animals, vegetation and geological features of the Russian Far East, and is the only exhibit in the United States to have grizzly bears, sea otters, endangered Amur leopards and wild boars in a single exhibit, helped draw 221,414 visitors to the Apple Valley zoo in June. That is the second highest monthly total in zoo history. The highest attendance was recorded 30 years ago in June 1978, the first full month that the Minnesota Zoo was open.

More attractions are on the way, zoo officials say. Next summer the "Forest Adventure Playground" will open near the zoo's Central Plaza. The playground will feature suspension bridges, nets, tunnels and slides along with oversized models of animals and natural objects.

African animals, including zebras, antelopes, gazelles and ostriches, will return to the Minnesota Zoo next summer, zoo officials said.


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