05 Jan ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO THANKS VISITORS FOR SETTING 10TH CONSECUTIVE ATTENDANCE RECORD AT ESSEX COUNTY TURTLE BACK ZOO 677,220 Visitors are Welcomed during 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 5, 2014

ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO THANKS VISITORS
FOR SETTING 10TH CONSECUTIVE ATTENDANCE RECORD
AT ESSEX COUNTY TURTLE BACK ZOO
677,220 Visitors are Welcomed during 2014

West Orange, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced that 688,359 visitors were welcomed at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in 2014, setting a new annual attendance record for the 10th consecutive year. This was the second straight year that attendance topped 600,000.

“We are extremely humbled by the record number of people who keep coming each year to experience Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. It is very gratifying to see the excitement of children running from exhibit to exhibit to get an up close look at our animals and to think that how we are influencing our next generation of environmental stewards,” DiVincenzo said. “We truly thank the schools, organizations, families, children and others who choose Turtle Back as their destination. Their support is the reason for our continued success and we look forward to seeing the crowds grow in the future,” he added.

The 688,359 is about 67,000 more visitors to Turtle Back than the previous year. Attendance this year was projected to be another record setter when the half million mark was reached in August. Then, on Friday, December 10th, the previous attendance record of 621,818 was broken when the Jorda family from Butler, N.J. – Jonathan and Julie, their children 3-year olds Joshua, Nathan and Bentley and 18-month-old Abigail, and their niece 10-year-old Kathleen Knop – visited the Holiday Lights Spectacular display.

Recent exhibits and upgraded facilities added at Turtle Back continually attract visitors. In 2014, a new 12,000-square-foot Education Building with four classrooms was opened and enabled educational, summer camps and special programming to be expanded. In 2013, the Sea Lion Sound exhibit with sea lions, sting rays and sharks opened to commemorate the Zoo’s 50th anniversary. Other recent exhibits feature the Tam-ring Gibbons, big cats and the Treetop Adventure Course. There is also the 19-hole miniGOLF Safari and Paddle Boating on the Orange Reservoir that attracts visitors to the area.

The year before DiVincenzo took office, in 2002, attendance was 168,739. It climbed to 211,449 in 2005, 340,356 in 2007, 420,276 in 2008 and broke the half million mark for the first time with 511,655 in 2010.

2015 looks to be another exciting year as a new parking deck is scheduled to open, which will alleviate parking concerns at the Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex. In addition, there are plans to develop a Giraffe Exhibit.

Turtle Back Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Regular admission is $8 for children and senior citizens, $11 for adults and free for children under 2 years. For additional information, please call 973-731-5800 or visit www.essexcountynj.org.

Revitalizing Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

Since taking office in 2003, DiVincenzo has spearheaded over $70 million in upgrades to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, which have included developing the Carousel with 33 figures of endangered animals; building the Sea Lion Sound Exhibit with sea lions, sharks and sting rays; the Big Cat Country Exhibit with Jaguars and Cougars; Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve with Gibbons apes, Reeves muntjac and white naped cranes; Australian Exhibit that features kangaroos, wallabies, emus and over 500 birds in the Aviary; Reptile and Education Center, open air dining pavilion and playground, Penguin Exhibit, Otter Exhibit, Wolf Exhibit, Alligator Exhibit, North American Animal Exhibit, Black Bear Exhibit, Animal Hospital, Essex Farm Petting Zoo and South American Animal Exhibit; renovating the Food Pavilion for year-round use and making upgrades to the entrance as well as fencing and infrastructure to meet AZA requirements. Funding has been provided through Green Acres grants, existing capital improvement bonds, or donations from the Zoological Society, Essex County Parks Foundation, corporations or private foundations. Corporations that have provided support include Investors Bank, Prudential Financial, Inc., Wells Fargo (Wachovia Bank), PNC Bank, PSE&G, Verizon, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Coca Cola, Capital One Bank, TD Bank, Aramark, Covanta Energy and OxyMagic carpet cleaning.

The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 22 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, three off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Turtle Back Zoo is located in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation and was opened to the public in 1963.

Contact: Anthony Puglisi
973-621-2542
Lauren Shears
973-621-1590