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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium experienced another record breaking year ending 2010 with 2, 374, 125 guests, beating the record set in 2009 of 2, 218, 511 guests. In addition more than 74, 000 memberships and 23, 000 Zoombezi Bay season passes, representing more than 400, 000 individuals, were sold in 2010.
“We were on track to hit 2.4 million visitors when the December cold weather affected our Wildlights attendance” stated Zoo CEO and President Dale Schmidt. “We did have a few busy days including the heart-warming turnout for our food collection for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.” Officials from Mid-Ohio Food Bank have indicated more than 70, 000 pounds of food was donated by Zoo guests in just two days.
The opening of Polar Frontier in May marked the return of polar bears to the Zoo. The $20 million attraction also provided popular brown bears, Brutus and Buckeye, with an expansive new home and a habitat for arctic fox, a new species at the Zoo. The year saw the birth of two rare bonobos and a baby gorilla was added to Colo’s famous family tree. Another baby gorilla arrived from the Louisville Zoo and is now successfully cared for by her surrogate family. Four young manatees in need of rehabilitation after being rescued from unusually cold Florida waters came to the Zoo in April. In November two of the youngsters, as well as an adult who had been cared for by the Zoo since 2005, returned to Florida and one more was brought to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as part of the Zoo’s continuing participation in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation program. Three otter pups were born in March and video of them being taught to swim by their mother became a YouTube sensation. Other notable births and hatchings included two silver leaf langur monkeys, a tufted deer, three flamingos and multiple eastern plains garter snakes. The community was saddened by the sudden death of reticulated python and Guinness World Record holder, Fluffy, but joined in the naming contest when her daughter arrived at the Zoo a few weeks later.
In addition to the birth of rare and endangered species, the Zoo contributed to conservation efforts worldwide. More than 1, 500 federally protected freshwater mussels were reintroduced into Ohio waters in partnership with the Wilds, the Division of Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Zoo staff traveled to Churchill, Manitoba to serve as Arctic Ambassadors for Polar Bears International and to Alaska to continue a long-term study of spectacled eiders. Donations from private individuals and proceeds from fundraisers enabled the Zoo to continue to provide conservation grants which have totaled more than $4 million over the past five years.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.