Grizzly Ridge entrance. Photo: Akron Zoo.
AKRON -- Grizzly Ridge has been a roaring success for the Akron Zoo.
Since the new bear-based exhibit debuted on July 20, zoo officials say it has driven an uptick in attendance.
In fact, the Akron Zoo has already set a new annual attendance record with several months left in the year. On September 27, the Akron Zoo says it surpassed last year's record-setting attendance of 332,960.
"We are so humbled by the community's support of their zoo," President and CEO L. Patricia Simmons says. "Our staff and volunteers have worked hard to provide our visitors with more animals, more education and more exhibits. With the community's support and feedback they have helped create up-close experiences with some of the world's most amazing creatures."
On July 24 -- just four days after Grizzly Ridge opened to the public -- the zoo shattered its one-day attendance record with more than 6,300 guests. The previous record was 5,714 set in 1957.
Zoo officials say that 50 percent of this year's visitors have come since Grizzly Ridge was introduced.
Nine of the top 10 attendance days in the zoo's 60-year history have been set since the new exhibit opened.
Grizzly Ridge is the largest exhibit to open in the zoo's 60-year history. The four-acre exhibit features grizzly bears, river otters, red wolves, bald eagles and a walk-in aviary. Coyotes are expected to be on exhibit this fall as part of the new expansion. One of the most popular spots in Grizzly Ridge has been the otter slide, which is a fully enclosed acrylic tube that goes through the otter exhibit.
The Akron Zoo was founded in 1953.