Oregon Zoo sets attendance record

Lily is a female Asian elephant born at the Oregon Zoo on Friday, Nov. 30, 2013. She weighed a hefty 300 pounds at birth and has been described by zoo animal-care staff as a "spitfire." Lily's mother is Rose-Tu, her father is Tusko and her brother is Samudra. (Courtesy Oregon Zoo)
FILE - Lily is a female Asian elephant born at the Oregon Zoo on Friday, Nov. 30, 2013. She weighed a hefty 300 pounds at birth and has been described by zoo animal-care staff as a "spitfire." Lily's mother is Rose-Tu, her father is Tusko and her brother is Samudra. (Courtesy Oregon Zoo)

(KOIN) – More than 1.67 million people paid a visit to the Oregon Zoo last year, the highest number in its 125-year history.

The zoo reported Tuesday that it has not tabulated its final attendance number for the fiscal year ending June 30, but estimates it to be approximately 1.68 million. That breaks the previous record of 1.63 million set in 2009-10. Last year saw 1.59 million visitors.

The zoo said that it saw monthly records in December and March with 219,000 and 160,000 visitors respectively. It expects to draw nearly 500,000 visitors in July and August.

“People in this region have a deeper connection to animals than anyplace I’ve seen,” said Zoo Director Kim Smith in a statement. “They share our vision of creating a better future for wildlife and it shows. The outpouring of support in recent years seems to have reached a whole new level.”

The Oregon Zoo expects to unveil two new habitats over the next couple years. Condors of the Columbia, set to open next year, will provide a look at the challenge facing the endangered California condor. The 6.25-acre Elephant Lands, scheduled to open in 2015, will provide a new home for the zoo’s Asian elephant herd.

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