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Zoo News

Zoo News

Dec 19, 2012


Since becoming a privately managed Zoo in 2009
Dallas Zoo attendance has increased by almost a quarter of a million guests, the value of the Zoo as a City of Dallas asset has increased significantly,the Dallas Zoo has increased the number of full-time jobs at the Zoo by 28.5%.

The Dallas Zoo today announced that 2012 is on track to become a record-setting year with the highest attendance in its 124-year history, a projected 880,000 guests.  The Zoo has made major strides since becoming a privately managed asset of the City in 2009: attendance is up by a quarter of a million guests; the value of the Zoo as an asset to the City of Dallas has continued to increase; and the Zoo has had a 28.5% increase in full-time jobs since 2009, that’s 55 new full-time jobs in Southern Dallas – an area of development focus for the City of Dallas and Mayor Mike Rawlings.

“The impressive growth in attendance and value is proof that turning the day-to-day management over to animal experts has accelerated the Zoo’s growth into a world-class facility. That’s extremely important to Dallas because the Zoo has grown into a highly valuable City asset in an area where Dallas has the most potential for growth, Southern Dallas,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “The Dallas Zoo is a great example of private management of a City asset done right, and it is paying off for our City.”

“The Dallas Zoo is dedicated to providing excellent care for animals and a great experience for guests. Nothing shows that people appreciate us more than the increase we’ve seen in attendance,” said Gregg Hudson, president and chief executive officer of Dallas Zoo Management Inc.  “Privatization of management has freed the Zoo from bureaucratic red tape so it can take advantage of opportunities to bring in new animals and staff.  Second, the Giants of the Savanna was an excellent investment of public and private dollars and continues to be a game changer for the Dallas Zoo.  Giants of the Savanna is one of the best examples of an activity-based, multi-species zoo exhibit in the United States. The success that Giants of the Savanna has generated in terms of attendance, fund raising, and wildlife conservation tells us we can continue to grow and make our Zoo even better.”


“Because the Dallas Zoo is now privately managed, we can move faster and complete projects more quickly. That ability to be nimble has allowed the Zoo to grow at an explosive rate. When we identify a need here, individuals, foundations, and corporate sponsors have been stepping forward to underwrite these projects. In the public sector, these projects would take longer to fund and complete. We have significantly increased the amount of private funding and earned revenues to support the Zoo’s ongoing operation and capital improvements program,” said Michael L. Meadows, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Zoological Society. “Our annual attendance has increased by a quarter of a million guests in just three years.”

“The Dallas Zoological Society (DZS), like the Dallas Zoo itself, has matured a lot since privatization. We have continued our traditional role of funding new exhibits at the Zoo. Thanks to private contributions, we were able to help underwrite the Giants of the Savanna exhibit in 2010, our Wildlife Amphitheater featuring our bird show, Soar, A Festival of Flight, in 2011. But we have also been investing heavily in areas that are critical to the Zoo’s growth but not readily apparent to our guests. For example, this past year, we funded a new state-of-the-art animal nutrition center, the William M. Beecherl Animal Nutrition Center, using private contributions exclusively. While this facility is hidden from public view, having this kind of facility is absolutely critical to the health, well-being and growth of our animals. We also made major financial commitments to develop additional guest parking and new administrative offices so that all of our management team can work together in one building. We also just demolished the old large mammal building and will turn it into useable green space. These investments aren’t sexy but they are absolutely vital to our ability to sustain our Zoo’s continued growth and improvement in the years ahead. If we had not privatized, I don’t believe we would have attracted the private funding necessary to support all of these improvements. That said, without the City’s ongoing subsidy, we could not attract the private funding we have. So we really need the support of the both,” continued Meadows. “We hope that our record-setting attendance, along with the awards and international recognition the Dallas Zoo is now receiving, gives our donors and our City’s leaders even greater confidence that their contributions to the Dallas Zoo are being managed efficiently and wisely to make one of Dallas’ greatest assets even better.”