Essex County Executive DiVincenzo Announces Attendance at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Surpasses 400,000
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 • 11:57am
Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Monday, November 10th that attendance at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo has surpassed 400,000 visitors and revenue has exceeded $2 million in 2008. These milestones were both set on Sunday, November 9th with about seven weeks remaining in the year. This is the highest attendance and most revenue generated in the Zoo's 45-year history and means that revenue from the Zoo will exceed the yearly operating expenses, making Turtle Back Zoo a self-sustaining facility.
"We have made tremendous improvements to Turtle Back Zoo and the large turnout of visitors and high revenue figures show how popular our Zoo has become. The natural habitat exhibits along with our Carousel and Train Ride attractions make coming to Turtle Back Zoo a fun, learning adventure for children and families," DiVincenzo said. "We are proud that we were able to make the Zoo a self-sustaining facility. It is a tremendous educational and recreational resource for the community and now we are able to offer it without placing a burden on our budget," he added.
The original attendance record of 211,044 was set in 1986 and is now the fifth-highest total. Attendance had fallen to an all-time low in 1995 when 119,995 people passed through the Zoo's gates and was hovering around 165,000 people prior to DiVincenzo taking office in 2003.
Turtle Back Zoo has the highest attendance of any zoo in New Jersey. As the attendance figures have risen over the last two years, so has the revenue. Through Sunday, November 9th, about $2 million in revenue was collected, which is the fifth consecutive year that revenue has increased. Before DiVincenzo took office, between $600,000 and $650,000 was collected on an annual basis.
The Executive noted that admissions make up about 80 percent of the total Zoo revenue, whereas other zoos traditionally rely on admission revenue for about 30 percent of their funding. This is the first time in Turtle Back Zoo history that revenue generated exceeded the operating budget.
Essex County Executive DiVincenzo also invites the public to spend part of their holiday season at the Second Annual Essex County-Prudential Financial Holiday Lights Spectacular at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo.
The Holiday Lights Spectacular will be held as follows:
Dates: Friday, November 28, 2008 to Sunday, January 4, 2009
Times: 5 to 9 p.m. each night
Place: Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, 560 Northfield Avenue West Orange, NJ
The Holiday Lights Spectacular will be closed on December 1, 2, 3, 4, 24 & 25, 2008 and January 1, 2009.
"Make this Essex County Holiday tradition your family tradition! Turtle Back Zoo will be turned into a Winter Wonderland, with 50 extraordinary seasonal lighting exhibits, holiday music and entertainment. Stroll the landscaped paths of our Zoo and admire the illuminated images of everything from toy soldiers to dancing penguins," DiVincenzo said. "Best of all, the proceeds will support ongoing Zoo improvements," he noted.
More than 50 animal and holiday-themed figures will light up the winter night in Turtle Back Zoo and the surrounding Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex. The regular zoo animals will be joined by illuminated figures of bears, tigers and elephants, along with holiday lights designed to look like wooden soldiers, stars and winter scenes.
The Essex County-Prudential Financial Holiday Lights Spectacular is sponsored by Prudential Financial, Covanta Energy, PSE&G and Verizon. Admission is $3 for children and $6 for adults. All proceeds will benefit Turtle Back Zoo. On selected days, there will be musical entertainment, face painting and other activities for children. Hot chocolate and other refreshments will be available to purchase.
For more information, please call Essex County Turtle Back Zoo at 973-731-5800.