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Chaffee Zoo nears 1 million visitors in 2016, says more projects to come

Zoo's lion cub gets acquainted with his pride

Kijani spends time with his half-sister, Zamaya, while also getting "howdy" time with his sire, Chisulo.
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Kijani spends time with his half-sister, Zamaya, while also getting "howdy" time with his sire, Chisulo.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo set a record for attendance in 2016, with nearly 1 million visitors flocking to the zoo in Roeding Park.

The zoo announced Tuesday that 964,091 visitors came through the zoo gates last year, a 19 percent increase in public attendance over 2015’s 808,914 visitors. February saw the largest monthly increase in visitors with 87,878 guests – double the 43,943 that came in February 2015.

Annual memberships also increased by 10 percent, with 18,856 memberships by the end of the year.

Zoo Executive Director Scott Barton credited much of the increase to the new African Adventure exhibit, which opened in the fall of 2015, and the support the zoo has received through Measure Z, the tenth-of-a-cent sales tax that supports zoo operations and improvements. Phase two of the African Adventure exhibit will take shape soon and is expected to bring hippos and crocodiles to Fresno, Barton said.

The zoo said even more projects are coming, including an expansion of the Dino Dig exhibit and a water play area for children. Another project – an Asian exhibit – will feature space for Malayan tigers and sloth bears.

Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado: 559-441-6304, @cres_guez

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