June 6, 2018 12:59 pm

Pandas help Calgary Zoo set new attendance record in May

Wed, Jun 6: The Calgary Zoo saw record attendance in May thanks to the opening of the Panda Passage. Lindsey Galloway talks to Global News Morning Calgary about the popularity of the exhibition.

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The popularity of the panda family on loan from China helped the Calgary Zoo set an all-time attendance record in May.

Last month, 190,067 visitors passed through the gates, breaking the previous record of 147,285 set in 2003 when the zoo opened Destination Africa.

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Lindsey Galloway, senior director of customer experience at the zoo said Wednesday they were a bit surprised at just how busy it has been since the opening of Panda Passage.

“We were expecting it to be busy, but not quite this busy. I mean, we had a record-breaking month in May.

“It crushed the previous record considerably, by almost 30 per cent. If that’s a sign of things to come, that’s very exciting,” Galloway said.

In addition to the higher attendance, the zoo is also selling a record number of memberships, with 90,000 active members.

Galloway pointed out it’s not even into summer yet, with half a million visitors expected in July and August alone.

READ MORE: #OurYYC On the Road: Global News at the Calgary Zoo’s Panda Passage

Due to the huge amount of interest from the public, the zoo is doing what it can to keep the crowds moving.

Officials encourage visitors to purchase tickets in advance online and to pick a specific time to see the pandas to avoid long line-ups. Galloway said, up until this point, the line-ups haven’t been that bad.

“The line-ups we’ve seen have been no more than, at the longest, 15 to 20 minutes and those are some of our biggest days,” Galloway said.

“We have two lines going. It’s kind of like at Disneyland. You get a separate ticket and go into a separate line and it’s quite a bit quicker. Those are free. You can get them online or at the park.”

Panda Passage, the new home to Da Mao, Er Shun, and cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, opened to the public on May 7.

In 2012, an agreement was signed by the Canadian and Chinese governments to host two giant pandas for a 10-year stay in Canada. The first five years were spent in Toronto and that’s where the cubs were born.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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