Riverbanks tops 1 million for fifth straight year

07/22/2014 7:06 PM

07/22/2014 7:07 PM

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, which topped 1 million in attendance twice in its first 35 years, announced Tuesday that it had broken 1 million for the fifth consecutive year.

The total for the fiscal year ending June 30 was a record 1,053,377, an improvement from 1,039,372 the year before. The attendance was boosted by the opening of the zoo’s zip line canopy tours, which have attracted nearly 5,000 customers since opening in August.

Attendance apparently hasn’t been hurt by the on-going construction for the $36 million Destination Riverbanks. The construction has forced visitors through a less attractive temporary entrance, and forced the closure or move of several exhibits. Yet attendance for June 2014 (61,958) was only slightly under attendance for June 2013 (63,630).

“Riverbanks’ growing success is largely attributed to an ever-evolving guest experience,” said CEO Satch Krantz. "We constantly strive to provide our visitors with exciting and participatory opportunities.”

The star of the new expansion will be a sea lion exhibit, but it also will include new grizzly bear and otter habitats, a children’s garden at the Botanical Garden, a new entrance plaza and expanded parking.

Riverbanks topped 1 million visitors in 1990 after the opening of the aquarium-reptile complex and in 2002 after the opening of the gorilla exhibit. For much of the decade leading up to 2009, attendance seemed to plateau around 800,000. After five years, the new plateau apparently is 1 million, but that could jump with the draw of new exhibits and more parking.

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