Washington Park Zoo sets new attendance record
Michigan City, Indiana - The Washington Park Zoo has set a new record for attendance in 2017, up 2.6% from our last record season which was set in 2016. As of the first week of September 2017, a total of 87,497 guests have visited our furry, feathered and scaly friends (which is 2,273 more guests than at the end of last year!) 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 $6 million.
Washington Park Zoo closed out 2014 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. One of our main goals was to ensure our guests not only see the animals, but have a chance to connect with them on some level as well because guests that understand about the habitat, diet, and behaviors of an animal appreciate their zoo visits even more. Education is an integral part of our zoo and helps to spread our message of wildlife conservation by engaging guests in fun, interactive programs that help foster stewards of wildlife. Our programs include special events, summer camps, outreach programs, in house programs, tours, scout programs, and more.
Since 2015, the Zoo has been moving forward with our 5 year strategic plan, which has enabled us to continue upgrading exhibits, buildings, and grounds. With so much done and yet so much left to do, we are gearing up to launch a major “Roaring Wild for the Zoo” fundraising campaign. The campaign is going to focus on raising funds to modernize some of the major exhibits like the historic Monkey Island and the Big Cat Habitats. Monkey Island which was built in 1932, and the Big Cat house which was built in 1975, are not in line with our zoological practices of today. We want the public to know that “we don’t like them either” and that this campaign will help us update these habitats, as well as others.
2018 will mark the 90th anniversary of the Washington Park Zoo and to celebrate we are planning a fun filled season. The Zoo has a long and rich community history beginning with our start in 1928 and our WPA (Works Progress Administration) construction in the 1930’s. To mark this significant milestone, a variety of activities will be offered to visitors to commemorate the lasting effects the Zoo has had on Michigan City and the surrounding community and beyond.
The Washington Park Zoo is also dedicated to being a sanctuary for exotic animals in need of a safe home. Some of the zoo’s residents have been misplaced pets that proved to be too wild or were confiscated as illegally owned. Some have suffered injuries that would make life in the wild impossible and others were removed by the DNR. In all cases the residents are given the best environments that our staff can provide for their health and mental enrichment needs. Our Staff is dedicated to the health and welfare of the animals in our care and their relatives in the wild.
If anyone is interested in helping with our campaign, please contact the Zoo to find out more about the projects. Every dime counts and the contributions made to this project will be quite tangible; the evidence of “before and after” will be profound. The Zoo will also be offering “Zoo–nique” awards to schools, classes, clubs and even businesses who want to contribute with their own fundraising challenges like coin wars, bake sales or blue jean donation days. All donations are tax deductible and will be directly reinvested in the zoo.
Approximately 200 animals call the Washington Park Zoo home. We are open daily from 10am to 4pm until October 31st. Regular admission is $7 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and children ages 3-11, and 2 and under are free.
For more information about the Washington Park Zoo, please visit the Zoo on Facebook or at www.washingtonparkzoo.com.
WASHINGTON PARK ZOO INSPIRING EDUCATION AND EXPANDING OUR REACH
Have you been to your zoo lately? For over 80 years, our small zoo has played a unique role in connecting people to the natural world. We’re the only place in community where you can hear the roar of a lion or stand inches away from an otter family swimming in their underwater home. Our goal is to inspire people to protect the natural world for future generations by creating engaging experiences that connect wildlife. Whether it’s a family outing or a school field trip, our Zoo provides a welcoming environment where people of all ages can enjoy themselves and learn about the incredible animals that we share our planet with. In 2016, we again had record attendance with more than 85,000 visitors enjoying all that our Zoos has to offer.
For those looking for an educational experience, the Washington Park is an amazing outdoor classroom where students can think outside the box by exploring the lakefront, gardens and the zoo. Visitors of all ages have the opportunity to make personal connections to the history of the community, as well as create lasting memories.
Over the last few years, the Zoo has focused on creating more enriching habitats for the animals where they can demonstrate natural behaviors, such as food foraging and social living. Our education staff is also trying to help visitors make an up close connection to the animals, by present daily Keeper Talks with opportunities to meet some of the animals. Two of the guest favorites seem to be Lola, a small two-foot long Alligator and Tucker, our male Three Banded Armadillo. We hope that these experiences and so many others position the Zoo to inspire others to explore nature through discovery, play, education, and imagination.
Throughout the year the zoo also offers educational outreach presentations for students of all ages – from toddlers to school-aged children, college students and casual learners. A Zoo to You program immerses the audience in hands-on discovery and interactive learning through live animal encounters, biofacts and environmental themed programming.
Are curious on how you can get involved with the Zoo and make a difference?
Purchase a Zoo Membership: There are many ways to “Do the Zoo”, but the best way is as a member! Our annual Zoo pass allows members to come and go as often as they like. Members receive exclusive discounts, such as free or discounted admission to special events, invitations to special member-only events and discounted admissions at other zoo who reciprocal with our passes.
Adopt an Animal: This is a fun and unique way to support the Zoo’s conservation efforts and create a special bond with one of your favorite Zoo animals. As part of the adoption program you will receive a certificate of adoption, special photo and fact sheet about your animal and your name displayed by the animal exhibit for a whole year.
Host an Event: The Zoo offers a natural, serene escape for special gatherings, and is a great place for birthday parties and corporate outings. Our staff will assist you in making your meeting or outing spectacular and memorable.
Volunteer: Zoo volunteers give their time and talents for many reasons, but primary is their love for the institution and a respect for our mission. We treasure our volunteers for their above and beyond commitment and service.
Attend a Fundraiser: Proceeds from Zoo events support animal care, education programs and conservation efforts. From Zoo Brew to Zoo-B-Que to Boo at the Zoo, we are certain to have an event you will love.
Support the Zoo: Consider participating as a corporate sponsor, naming the Zoo in your estate or making an immediate impact to animal care, education and conservation through a gift to the Zoo Society. Your charitable gift helps us care for the animals, make improvements, offer education programs and take part in community conservation efforts.
The Washington Park Zoo will open for the 2017 season on April 1st, but for information please visit our website at www.washingtonparkzoo.com, Facebook or call us at 219.873.1510.