Washington Park Zoo celebrates new attendance record
The Washington Park Zoo has set a new record for attendance during its 2019 season with 103,123 visitors, up from the zoo’s all-time record attendance in 2017 of 100,122. While many of the zoo attendees came from Michigan City, about 88% were from out of town and their impact on the local economy is estimated at $7,734,225.00. 2019 was the zoo’s 91st season and brought with it many other celebrated highlights, including earning its re-accreditation by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA). To be accredited, the zoo underwent a thorough review to ensure it has and will continue to meet the standards in categories, which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. The ZAA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.
In 2014, the Washington Park Zoo closed out the year by unveiling new branding for the zoo which focused on making sure that each animal has the best possible care and that every guest has a memorable zoo experience. Each year the zoo has continued to complete its project goals and expand it’s on going 5-year strategic plan, which includes upgrading exhibits, buildings, and grounds. The zoo relies on community support not only with visitors, but also monetary donations, volunteer time and gifted items from its wish list. The support allows the zoo to continue to make improvements to its many programs, including conservation, education and animal care. Education is an integral part of the zoo and helps to spread the message of wildlife conservation by engaging guests in fun, interactive programs that help foster stewards of wildlife. Some of the zoo’s residents have been misplaced pets that proved to be too wild or were confiscated as being illegally owned. Some have suffered injuries that would make life in the wild impossible and others were removed from their natural habitat by the DNR. The zoo did welcomed births this year, including twin Golden- Handed Tamarins, Dart Frogs, and first-time birth milestones with the addition of two Barn Owls and a Three-Banded Armadillo.