Zoo sets attendance mark, announces kangaroo exhibit

Nashville Zoo officials announced today both an attendance record and the spring opening of an exhibit for red kangaroos.

The exotic wildlife park saw 787,548 visitors in 2012, marking a 21 percent increase from the previous year’s mark of 648,034 and the highest year-to-year attendance jump in zoo history.

“2012 was a banner year for our organization,” Rick Schwartz, zoo president, said in a release. “Our membership program grew to 33,000 households representing more than 140,000 individuals. We are grateful for the continued community support for making us the number one paid attraction in Middle Tennessee.”

In 2011, the zoo recorded 28,276 household members representing about 120,000 individuals.

To accommodate the rapid growth, the zoo plans to update infrastructural components this year, including an expanded entrance from Nolensville Pike and additional parking.

Nashville Zoo is also opening Kangaroo Kickabout, a walkthrough exhibit allowing guests to enter the home of several red kangaroos.

“Kangaroo Kickabout is very exciting because it adds another interactive experience for our visitors,” said Schwartz. “We want to thank Jim and Sally Hunt for sponsoring their second exhibit and bringing the Australian Outback to Middle Tennessee.”

Zoo officials believe several factors helped drive attendance, including the addition of DinoTrek, the births of a Masai giraffe and six clouded leopards, and pleasant weather throughout the year.