Halfway through its fiscal year, attendance at the Sedgwick County zoo is up 18 percent from 2015 and up 31 percent from 2014, according to a new financial report presented to the County Commission.
A brand new elephant attraction opened back in May, drawing large crowds to see longtime resident Stephanie and the zoo's six new elephants. The Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley features a five-acre outdoor display, as well as an indoor facility with a 550,000 gallon elephant pool.
However, zoo officials say the biggest impact on the number of visitors each day has been the weather. Much of the added attendance came back in February and April, when temperatures were above normal. Ever since then, the zoo hasn’t been meeting its attendance quotas.
“We’re very much at the mercy of the weather and unfortunately, to this point, only two days in July have been under 90 [degrees] and seven have been over 100,” said Ryan Gulker, the zoo’s deputy director. “So, we’re not meeting the attendance budgets for July, either.”
The financial report indicates that total revenue for the zoo is north of $14 million—a nearly 13 percent increase over last year. But Gulker says the zoo is worried about revenue numbers going forward if excessive heat continues.
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