KNOXVILLE - Zoo Knoxville broke its attendance record for a second consecutive year, welcoming 473,679 visitors in 2016, exceeding the record set in 2015 by 33,564 people.
While more than 200,000 East Tennesseans visited the zoo, nearly 60 percent of 2016 visitors were tourists. Zoo Knoxville says these tourists contributed more than $36 million to the local economy.
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The zoo unveiled its new branding during 2016, and welcomed some new animals. Zoo Knoxville celebrated the births of "Waya" the red wolf pup in April and "Andi" the baby gorilla in September. The zoo also welcomed Frances the giraffe to Knoxville in September.
"We continued to focus on making sure each guest had a memorable zoo experience and elevating that at every opportunity," said Zoo Knoxville CEO President and CEO Lisa New. New said the zoo hopes to continue its growth in 2017 with the opening of the Tiger Forest, Zoo Knoxville's largest project to date.
Zoo Knoxville saw its highest attendance in October. According to zip code data, the zoo saw visitors from all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
(© 2017 WBIR)