1, 602, 257 visitors, 3, 414 animals and 40 new jobs
"2010 was the year we broke all the records at Hannover Adventure Zoo!" Director Klaus-Michael Machens proudly presented a year of superlatives at the annual press conference: 1, 602, 257 visitors (3, 486, 612 when calculated on the VDZ scale*), opening of the spectacular Canadian theme world ‘Yukon Bay’, a world record of five baby elephants in one calendar year, the birth of Hannover’s 50th giraffe, the 2009/10 ‘Best Zoo’ award … "The balance sheet is just superb, " as Zoo supervisory board chairman and Hannover Region president Hauke Jagau summed up.
The biggest attractions turned out to be five elephants born between May and early December, and the new Yukon Bay theme world with its polar bears, wolves, seals and underwater world; visitor numbers rose by 29% compared to the previous year, and from the opening of Yukon Bay on 22 May 47% more people came to the Zoo compared to the same period in the year before! ‘ZooCard’ annual season ticket sales rose to 128, 640 (2009: 105, 873).
More visitors and higher income from catering, events, merchandise and guided tours meant that the Zoo achieved a turnover of 33 million € last year, 46.8% more than in 2009.
"We are mightily proud of these results! Despite the long hard winter and the delayed opening of Yukon Bay, despite the very hot early summer and non-stop rain in August, we set a visitor record that exceeded our most daring expectations" was director Machens’ delighted comment. The Zoo had calculated for around 1.5 million visitors, and the figures last year confirmed the soundness of the principles that it has followed since 1996: "Animal keeping to fire people’s imaginations, education that’s enjoyable, entertainment with depth, consistent theming in the adventure worlds, and taking all the visitors’ needs seriously, " explained Machens.
"For me, the opening of Yukon Bay was the highlight of 2010, " said Jagau. "Hannover Zoo is the tourism flagship of the Hannover Region, whose attractions draw people from far beyond the borders of Lower Saxony – a real visitor magnet." The days are long gone when Hannover Zoo was just a local amenity visited by local people; today visitors come from all over Germany. A quarter of all visitors have travelled over 50 kilometres to the Zoo gates. "As the Hannover Region tourist attraction with the most visitors the Zoo is also contributing to the region’s prosperity, " explained Jagau. "More than 10, 500 Zoo visitors also stayed overnight in Hannover."
Compared to this, the Region president recalled, just 16 years ago the Zoo was a difficult case with falling visitor numbers. 111.9 million € has since been invested to transform a decaying municipal zoological gardens into today’s Adventure Zoo. Of this, 54 million was financed through loans taken out by the Zoo, which services the capital and interest repayments. "The Hannover Region authority stands security for 80 per cent of these loans, " said Jagau, emphasising the shareholder’s confidence in the Zoo concept – confidence that is fully justified: "By the end of 2010, 21.6 million € of the loans had already been paid off, " said Zoo director Machens.
40 new jobs
For the regional economy, too, the Zoo is also a striking success. The new Canadian theme world has created 40 new jobs in technical services, animal keeping, catering, visitor services and merchandising. Overall, since revitalisation of the Zoo began in 1996 the number of employees has risen from 78 to 316 (reckoned in full-time jobs).
Education at the Zoo
Hannover Adventure Zoo gives people the chance to experience animals in scenic settings that meet the needs of both animals and visitors: "It is much more exciting to see lions, gorillas, giraffes and polar bears live, up close, than just to read about them, " said Jagau. "The Zoo is more than a place for a day out – in the Hannover Region it has an important responsibility for education."
Another new record was set last year by the Zoo Scouts, who shared the secrets of the animal world with more than 62, 000 Zoo visitors on a total of 3, 621 guided tours (2009: 3, 205). Of these, just over 850 were as children’s birthday events and 1, 020 were for school classes, while there were 501 visits involving over 9, 000 school pupils at the Zoo School. Director Machens is delighted: "I know of no other zoo where so many people learn about the wonders of biology from trained staff in such a lively and interesting way."
The taste of success: Zoo Hannover Service GmbH
In five of the seven Zoo Adventure Worlds the catering facilities offer appropriately themed food and drink: on the banks of the Zambezi, Mama Wambule’s burger and fresh pizza from the wood-fired oven; crispy wok-fried vegetables at the Jungle Palace, freshly-made pasta and pancakes at Mullewapp and hearty German cooking on Meyer’s Farm, while the new Yukon Bay Market Hall serves up fresh fish, bison burgers, salads and even real Canadian beer: ‘Yukon Gold’. Selling like hot cakes but cold: Luigi Amarone’s ice cream, which has been made in the Zoo’s own ice cream manufactory since May – 428, 765 helpings so far!
Offering the extraordinary settings of Africa, India and Canada for all sorts of exclusive parties and special events after the Zoo closes for the day has created a significant source of revenue: a total of 2, 341 parties, meetings and dinners – in the barn on Meyer’s Farm, in the Jungle Palace and the Maharajah’s Great Hall, on the banks of the Zambezi and the new Market Hall in Yukon – enchanted invited guests last year. The Market Hall seats up to 400 guests and has been booked for 41 events since it opened; almost 8, 000 people have already celebrated in Yukon Bay.
Today the Zoo and its subsidiary can cover operating costs from income even though they have risen with improvements to animal keeping and service quality. Even so, the high investment costs mean that it still relies on subsidies – like every German zoo. Region Hannover authority as shareholder grants Zoo Hannover GmbH an annual subsidy of 3 million €. Last year the Zoo spent 4.1m € on capital repayments and interest charges.
Record results in the animal kingdom
Zoological statistics also broke all records: 3, 414 animals of 237 species were counted at the 2010 stocktaking, 1, 179 more than the previous year (2009: 2, 235). Sixteen new species moved into the Yukon Bay Canada theme world, including polar bears, northern fur seals, wood bison, pine squirrels, sandhill cranes and prairie dogs.
There were 148 births – among them the 50th Rothschild giraffe in the history of the Zoo, three meerkats, two Somali wild asses, a gorilla and two highland zebras. The cutest world record was probably set by Hannover’s pachyderms: between May and December five Asian elephants were born.
* When comparing Hannover visitor statistics with those of other zoos it should be considered that they count their visitors according to the ‘VDZ-Schlüssel’ method (day ticket sales plus 5% for complimentary tickets plus 20x the number of annual season tickets = visitor numbers). Using this calculating method, Hannover Adventure Zoo had 3, 486, 612 visitors last year.
** VDZ Verband Deutscher Zoodirektoren
(association of German zoo directors)