For the second straight year, we’ve welcomed one million visitors! The milestone was hit a full month earlier than last year, the first time we reached the exclusive mark. This milestone now puts us on pace for the seventh consecutive year of record attendance.
And it’s all thanks to our incredible supporters who we will honor with a “Thanks a Million!” weekend celebration Sept. 17-18. (Details to come in the next few weeks!)
“We appreciate our community’s support so much,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO. “More than a million people recognize the efforts we’ve made to become one of the nation’s best zoos. They’re telling their friends that we’re not the zoo of the past, but one that’s leading the future. We can’t wait to see where we’ll end up at the end of our fiscal year in September.”
We welcomed our millionth visitor Saturday night during our first Pokémon Go Night event. More than 5,200 guests flooded the gates starting at 6 p.m., ready to hunt Pokémon throughout the 106-acre park.
This is the second time we’ve welcomed one million visitors in a fiscal year. The previous record was set just last year on Sept. 23. Of the more than 230 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), we join only 30 other zoos to reach more than a million visitors annually.
Several key factors helped us reach this milestone:
- The March reopening of the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari. The popular people-mover underwent a $3 million renovation with updated electrical and mechanical systems, a new station, air-conditioning onboard, and more.
- Elaborate LEGO® brick displays crafted from more than 700,000 bricks called us home from Jan. to April. Nature Connects included larger-than-life sculptures created by award-winning artist Sean Kenney, and a large, tented Stay and Play Brickyard, presented by LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Dallas/Fort Worth.
- We collaborated with conservation officials in Swaziland, Africa, and two other accredited U.S. facilities to provide a safe haven for 17 African elephants who arrived in March. Wildlife officials in drought-ravaged Swaziland planned to cull the elephants in order to focus on rhino conservation. Five of the elephants found a home in Dallas, and more than two months later, rescued elephant Mlilo gave birth to baby boy Ajabu.
- Fifth consecutive Certificate of Excellence award as one of the world’s best businesses by TripAdvisor, the largest travel reviewing and planning web site, and maintains a four-star rating on Yelp.