The nonprofit Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is celebrating the end of the winter season and reports the Zoo broke attendance records each of the first five months of 2012.
Naples Zoo welcomed a record 189,340 guests between January and May, a 15.2 percent increase over the same five months in 2011. While more tourists came to Collier County so far in 2012, Naples Zoo's attendance increase more than doubled the county's increase a significant achievement given the winter season's ideal beach weather.
"Every sunrise this winter seemed to bring a great beach day," said zoo director David Tetzlaff. "We're so thankful so many people decided it was also a great zoo day. We've got great residents who love the gardens, animals, and the whole conservation mission - and they bring their family and friends."
These record numbers top seven years of record-breaking attendance. The Zoo saw more people in just these five months in 2012 than all 12 months of 2002.
"Thanks to our board, donors, visitors, members and other supporters, we're constantly welcoming new animals and offering guests new experiences," said Tetzlaff.
This was the first winter season when guests were allowed to hand-feed the zoo's herd of seven giraffes. Naples Zoo is one of only four zoos in the nation with the wildly popular and fierce honey badgers. (The viral video that rocketed this formerly obscure mammal to fame has over 45 million views. The custom video done for Naples Zoo by the same person has already hit hundreds of thousands.)
The Zoo also hailed the rare birth of four Malagasy fosas, endangered carnivores from Madagascar, and two of only 15 striped hyenas in the nation.