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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Akron Zoo sets new attendance record

12/13/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Photos courtesy of Akron Zoo
WEST AKRON — The Akron Zoo set a new all-time annual attendance record Nov. 30, surpassing the previous annual attendance record of 328,953 people set in 2008. Several factors contributed to the success, according to zoo officials, with perhaps the biggest factor the opening of a new exhibit in May, Journey to the Reef.

Through the end of November, 329,060 people have come through the zoo gates, with still a month left in the season for the zoo to add to the new record. With December events, the zoo is expected to top the 330,000 mark for the first time in its history.

The last time the zoo set an attendance record was 2008 with the opening of Jellies: Rhythm in the Blue. The temporary jellyfish exhibit was so popular that the zoo kept it open through last year. Because of its popularity, the zoo incorporated some jellyfish species into Journey to the Reef, which also included an octopus, lion fish, eels, clownfish, a sting ray touch tank and more. According to zoo officials, the exhibit garnered international attention when the zoo held a naming contest for its octopus on June 25, in which the octopus, Cora, shown above right, was able to pick her own name by reaching her arms into a container and pulling out the winning entry.

“We are very proud that we have been able to provide a place of enjoyment and education for so many people of our community,” said zoo President and CEO L. Patricia Simmons. “We have been listening and working hard to provide the kind of zoo our community wants to see, and it is so rewarding to see the community responding to the efforts of our staff and volunteers.”

In addition to the opening of Journey to the Reef, the zoo also welcomed, for the first time in its history, two endangered snow leopard cubs, shown above left, which were born in May and have been on exhibit since mid-August. Also born this year at the zoo were two endangered Humboldt penguins.

Construction is under way for the zoo’s next project, The Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge, which will open in the summer of 2013. Grizzly Ridge will include grizzly bears, red wolves, coyotes, otters, eagles, an aviary and more. 

The Akron Zoo is open 361 days a year. Winter hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and winter admission is $6 per person, but free for children younger than 2. Parking costs $2.

For more information, visit www.akronzoo.org or call 330-375-2550.

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