Visitors or visits? An examination of zoo visitor numbers using the case study of Australia

Liam Smith
Zoo Biology 2013, 32 (1): 37-44
Usually cited in reference to the potential reach of zoo education, one of the popular figures for global zoo visitation is that 600 million people visit zoos annually. However, this number needs clarification on two fronts. First, there are many zoo visitors who are not included in the calculation because they visited a zoo that was not included in the count. Second, it does not take into consideration the people visit either the same or different zoos more than once annually. Using data collected from several sources, including zoo visitors themselves, this article focuses on one country--Australia--that contributes 15.6 million to the visitation total, and contends that the correct number of unique annual zoo visitors to Australian zoos is likely to be between 8 and 10 million. However, rather than suggesting an overemphasis on the potential of zoos for educating visitors, having regular repeat visitors represents a distinct advantage for zoos, allowing for progressive education opportunities.

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