The Zoo is celebrating a successful end to Fiscal Year 2017 with a total count of 505,723 visitors. “We are thrilled to go over the 500,000 mark for first time in over 15 years,” stated Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of the Zoo. “This number has been a goal of ours for some time. Not only did we achieve our goal, we also continued to see growth in membership, event attendance and off-grounds educational outreach.”

The Zoo broke a number of internal goals in several departments, including the Membership Department. “The Membership Department now represents over 14, 000 household members, which tells me that visitors see the value in becoming a supportive part of the Zoo family by becoming members,” continued Hutchinson. “In addition to family and individual memberships, many business and community partners have been supporting the Zoo through corporate memberships and sponsorships, which is an area that has also seen growth over the years.”

Other highlights from the year ending June 30, 2017:

  • Brew at the Zoo, the Zoo’s biggest fundraiser brought in over $500,000 for Zoo operations, conservation and education;
  • New Zoo supporters increased more than 10% year-over-year showcasing our most successful year of donor acquisition;
  • Each of the events in the “Breakfast with the Animals” and “Paint and Sip” series sold out in advance, as did the newly created “Yoga at the Zoo” program;
  • The Zoo admitted 85,760 Maryland students, teachers and chaperones on school field trips in FY 2017. Of those, 75,650 visitors were admitted without charge as part of the Free Admission Program for Maryland Schools which is supported by the state and funded through the Maryland State Department of Education.
  • Education Outreach programs and events, including the ever-engaging ZOOmobile visits, delivered 869 programs to 46,009 people in 17 Maryland counties, and Baltimore City, as well as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
  • The Zoo’s 1,164 volunteers donated 40,198 hours of time to the Zoo, with a payroll extension value of $1.1 million.
  • Penguin Coast won the coveted Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which was presented in front of thousands of zoo and aquarium peers at the AZA Honors & Awards lunch in September 2016.
  • The Zoo hosted colleagues from around North America for the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) Master Plan meeting;
  • Two staffers took a total of three trips to South Africa to work in-situ with African penguins as part of the AZA Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program;
  • The Zoo welcomed two new species –bobcats in the Maryland Wilderness, and two orphaned grizzly bear cub siblings to Polar Bear Watch.

There were also several notable endangered species births, including:

  • The first two giraffe calves to be born at the Zoo in over twenty years were born during this fiscal year. Sadly, one-month-old Julius has died, while Willow, born in February, is firmly integrated into the herd;
  • Twelve African penguin chicks were hatched out during the 2016-2017 breeding season;
  • A Coquerel’s sifaka was born in November 2016. This is the fifth offspring for The Zoo’s sifaka pair;
  • Three Trumpeter swan chicks hatched successfully and will be sent to Iowa in the fall for release into the wild in the spring of 2018. One Trumpeter swan from the 2016 clutch was released in Iowa in May 2017.
  • Both the sitatunga and kudu herds grew with new additions to their herds;

“As a non-profit, we always strive to increase revenue each year to support our operating budget. While there are always challenges, I am confident in our team and their ability to continue to create new opportunities for growth,” said Hutchinson. “I am very pleased that throughout the year we were able to work together to provide great care for our animals, as well as memorable experiences for our over 500,000 guests.”