Local Zoos See Silver Lining In Bad Economy

The economic downturn may be benefiting the Metroplex's zoos.

Attendance at the Dallas Zoo and the Fort Worth Zoo is up so far this year.

Last year, the Dallas Zoo set an all-time attendance record with more than 670,000 visitors. And despite some rainy weather, 2009 is looking even better.

"This year we're already 3 percent ahead of last year despite having some huge rains," said zoo spokesman Chuck Siegel.

Officials at the 120-year-old zoo said new exhibits such as the albino alligators have visitors hitting the ticket windows.

But the recession may also be a big factor.

"A lot of people, rather than going off somewhere for their vacation, they're taking staycations," Siegel said.

Families such as recent zoo patrons the Martinezes are a good example.

"Especially with two kids, it's important that we watch our money and spend wisely," Joe Martinez said.

The zoo charges $10 for adults and $7 for children. And visitors will be able to buy admission for $1 on July 2.

Siegel said the zoo hopes that exhibits under construction such as the new African Savannah Exhibit that is scheduled to open next year will keep the attendance trends up.

"I think it's really going to take the Dallas Zoo to a whole new level," he said.

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