"We have made tremendous improvements to Turtle Back Zoo and the large turnout of visitors and high revenue figures show how popular our Zoo has become. The natural habitat exhibits along with our Carousel, miniGOLF Safari and Train Ride attractions make coming to Turtle Back Zoo a fun, learning adventure for children and families," DiVincenzo said. "We are proud that we were able to make the Zoo a self-sustaining facility. It is a tremendous educational and recreational resource for the community and now we are able to offer it without placing a burden on our budget," he added.
"I can't believe we are here today talking about Turtle Back Zoo and how successful it has become. Joe has the most wonderful ideas and because of him we have this great facility," Freeholder Patricia Sebold said.
"Thanks to Joe's vision and his commitment, Turtle Back Zoo is a major attraction in New Jersey. The Zoological Society is proud to be a part of that success and we are proud to continue to partner with Joe," Zoological Society of New Jersey President Connie Williams said.
On Saturday, October 16th, the Executive and Myrtle the Turtle, the Zoo's mascot, greeted Brian Brotschul from Bound Brook as he and his two daughters, Paige, age 5, and Ella, age 2, entered the Zoo. The Brotschuls were the 454,500th visitors to Turtle Back. DiVincenzo presented them with a basket full of prizes and a one-year membership in the Zoological Society.
"This is great. I didn't expect this," said Brotschul, who said his children come to Turtle Back at least eight to 10 times a year. "We enjoy it because it is so interactive and child friendly," he noted. Paige was excited to visit the Tropical Adventure Aquarium, which opened since her last visit.
The new attendance record of 454,500 people surpasses the previous record of 454,098 set last year. This is the sixth consecutive year a new attendance record has been established. Before taking office, Turtle Back Zoo welcomed an average of about 165,000 visitors annually, with an all-time low of 119,995 in 1995.
As attendance figures have risen, so has the revenue. Through Monday, October 11th, which was Columbus Day, about $2.7 million had been generated, setting a revenue record for the seventh consecutive year. This surpasses the old record of $2.5 million, which was collected last year. Before DiVincenzo took office, between $600,000 and $650,000 was collected on an annual basis. For the third consecutive year, Turtle Back Zoo has been a self-sufficient facility, meaning the amount of revenue collected has exceeded the approximate $2 million in operating expenses. In addition, the Executive noted that admissions at Turtle Back Zoo make up about 80 percent of the total revenue, whereas other zoos traditionally rely on admission revenue for about 30 percent of their funding.