Zoo Knoxville welcomed 585,282 visitors in 2021, rebounding from the pandemic with a new attendance record that exceeded the one set in 2018 by more than 73,000 people. This latest attendance milestone has a significant economic impact, bringing 333,971 tourists to Knox County which translates to $44 million in tourism dollars for the local economy.
In 2021, the zoo opened the Clayton Family Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Campus (ARC), one of the top animal conservation facilities in the U.S. and the largest project in zoo history. The ARC gives visitors the opportunity to view some of the most endangered species of animals in the world in immersive indoor habitats and see Zoo Knoxville’s internationally-acclaimed herpetologists caring for them.
“In 2021, all the hard work we have done with our planning and improvements gave our guests the highest quality experience we have ever offered,” said Lisa New, Zoo Knoxville president and CEO. “One of the most impactful ways our community supports our mission of saving animals who are in danger of extinction is by coming to the zoo. Every ticket and membership sold provides for the care of the animals here in Knoxville and supports conservation efforts all over the world to protect vulnerable species. All of our guests and zoo members should consider themselves zoo keepers, because we couldn’t have a zoo without them.”
The year also saw a record number of zoo members, with more than 35,000 active member households. October was the highest attended month, with just under 75,000 visitors, with a sell-out BOO! at the Zoo contributing to that number. New evening events After Hours and Zoo Lights also extended the zoo’s operating hours to offer more opportunities to enjoy the park.
For more information about programs or becoming a member at Zoo Knoxville go here.
Tina Rolen is director of marketing and communications at Zoo Knoxville.