ATLANTA – Jan. 7, 2015 – A landmark second-highest attendance in recorded history becomes an even more significant figure when that history spans more than 126 years. Zoo Atlanta has again marked its highest attendance since the arrival of the giant pandas in 2000. Despite the year’s distinction as the third wettest on record for Atlanta, the Zoo closed 2015 with over 920,700 visitors, a growth that surpassed calendar year 2014 by more than 20,000 guests.
“We start 2016 with enormous momentum. Great things are happening at Zoo Atlanta, and it’s energizing to open the New Year newly inspired by the power we have to change the lives and futures of wildlife and people,” said President and CEO Raymond B. King, who was named Atlanta’s Most Admired Nonprofit CEO for the second year in a row by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2015.
The Zoo’s largest exhibit debut in its history, the award-winning Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, opened in April to rave reviews. The destination, which features more than 70 species in state-of-the-art indoor habitats designed to represent some of Earth’s most iconic wild places, became the world’s first LEED Goldcertified reptile and amphibian exhibit in November and further cements Zoo Atlanta as a year-round attraction regardless of weather.
Zoo Atlanta’s next transformative project, the “A Grand New View: Elephants, Events and Expansion” campaign to revitalize the Cyclorama building and its adjacent property, continued to build momentum throughout the year. Zoo Atlanta announced four major gifts to the effort in 2015: $1 million from Delta Air Lines through the Delta Air Lines Foundation; $1 million from longtime Zoo supporters David and Cecelia Ratcliffe; $1 million from Georgia Power Foundation; and $1 million from The Kendeda Fund. These demonstrations of philanthropic support followed a $20 million matching grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, announced in late 2014.
“We can look with pride into the rearview mirror at five years of consistent growth and increasing strength as an organization, but what’s most exciting is that our brightest days lie ahead of us,” King said. “We’re moving forward with a historic expansion of the Zoo that will give new life to the Cyclorama building and create a beautiful new African savanna for our guests to enjoy.”
Animal highlights included one of the year’s most heartwarming Zoo Atlanta stories: the arrival of Keju, an infant Bornean orangutan in need of an orangutan mother. Keju was united with adult female orangutan Madu, who was selected by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Orangutan Species Survival Plan for her national reputation for having reared more adoptive infants than any other orangutan mother.
Births included Raisin the Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, the first sloth baby in Zoo Atlanta’s history, and Bob the eastern bongo, a representative of a critically endangered species believed to number fewer than 500 in the wild. The Zoo also welcomed Sequoyah, an adult male bald eagle from a rehabilitation center who was in need of a lifelong home in human care.
The year also brought federal recognition for one of Zoo Atlanta’s highest-profile efforts to improve the lives of great apes living in zoos. Founded at Zoo Atlanta, the Great Ape Heart Project earned its second National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services – the third show of federal support for the world’s first multiinstitutional effort to understand, diagnose, and treat cardiac disease in gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos. In another demonstration of national recognition, Zoo Atlanta was recently honored with the AZA Quarter Century Award recognizing zoos and aquariums which have continuously maintained the rigorous standards of AZA accreditation for 25 years or more.
Stay tuned for updates on exciting events to come in 2016, and visit zooatlanta.org for more information on Zoo Atlanta’s animals, mission and programs.
Rachel Davis Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office
404.309.2238 – cell
About Zoo Atlanta
Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with nearly 1,400 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in April 2015. Zoo collection highlights include Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; North America’s largest zoological collection of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-and-personal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, giant pandas, lemurs and Aldabra giant tortoises. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org or call 404.624.WILD.