Zoo officials hope to continue growing its success into 2013 - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Zoo officials hope to continue growing its success into 2013

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Zoo officials presented their year in review report on Wednesday to the parks board, and they have some of the plans for what's called the number one family attraction in Evansville.  

2012, so far, is set to be the second highest attendance on record for the zoo with about 194,000 visitors. Zoo director Amos Morris credits that to popular exhibits like Amazonia.

A Wednesday in December is not a typical day to be at the zoo, but for Alana and her youngest daughter, Clara, coming to the zoo happens all year round.

"I think her favorite part is just wondering around the paths, and seeing all of the animals," Alana Fligor said. 

"Seeing all the animals and all the people. I always talk to them," Clara said.

Clara considers the animals and all the other kids in her weekly zoo class her friends.

"I learned to paint with our fingers," Clara said.

Locals make up only about 35 percent of the visitors at the zoo.

"We try to market a two hour radius around the zoo," Morris tells 14 News.

In the last five or so years, the zoo has seen a big increase in attendance.

In order to keep growing in popularity, zoo officials say they hope to open new exhibits and host more events.  When the zoo opened Amazonia in 2008, they saw an increase in visitors of 31 percent.

"Which testifies to what a new exhibit can do to a zoo," Morris said.

2013 may include an addition of at least two species, a small mammal and a reptile, and preparing the Africa Exhibit for future expansion.

The zoo also recently opened new trails that collapsed during the construction of Amazonia. With or without new exhibits, Alana says the zoo has plenty to offer.

"We get to know all the animals and we know their names, and we travel around and see how they are doing throughout the weeks. I just really think that there is a lot more going on at the zoo than people understand," Alana said.

A yearly membership for a family is $59. The zoo's next event will be Orchid Escape in February. They also say they will be adding a new event this September.

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