Detroit Zoo attendance has exceeded one million for the seventh consecutive year with 1,272,574 visitors in 2012, up from 1,217,200 in 2011. Attendance for the Belle Isle Nature Zoo was 37,746.
“The strong attendance figures made a good year even better,” said Gerry VanAcker, Detroit Zoological Society's chief operating officer. “It’s great to see the community continue to support and enjoy their zoos.”
The mild spring weather and a spate of babies born in the spring and summer – including North American river otters, a Bactrian camel and red kangaroos – contributed to the Detroit Zoo’s robust numbers. In addition, orphaned grizzly bear cubs Mike, Thor and Boo – rescued in December 2011 from Alaska – made their debut in the spring, drawing significant crowds.
The zoo’s newest crowd-pleaser is the Boardwalk at the Cotton Family Wetlands, a 2-acre Michigan ecosystem teeming with native fish, frogs, turtles and birds. The popular immersive experience opened in July.
In late spring of 2013, a new animal habitat will give Detroit Zoo visitors up-close, underwater views of a pair of North American beavers. Named for the benefactors whose philanthropic support is making it possible, the Jane and Frank Warchol Beaver Habitat is under construction across from the Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat on the northern edge of the Wetlands.