Toronto Zoo attendance down despite panda excitement
Zoo's CEO blames drop on cold winters
The Toronto Zoo may have twin panda cubs named "Canadian Hope" and "Canadian Joy," but what it really needs is more visitors.
The zoo, which welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne yesterday as it unveiled the names of the new panda cubs, has seen a steady decline in attendance since 2013.
John Tracogna, the zoo's CEO, blames the drop on poor weather.
"Last year we had 39 extreme cold weather days … that's like six per cent of your attendance right off the bat," he told CBC News.
He's hoping the combination of panda cubs — named Jia Panpan (Hope) and Jia Yueyue (Joy) — and a milder winter will help reverse that trend.
"We do know that when people visit the Toronto Zoo, [the panda exhibit] is one of their first and last stops," he said.
Coun. Georgio Mammoliti, one of two council representatives on the zoo's board of management, is hoping the Chinese government, which loaned giant pandas Er Shun and Da Mao to Toronto in 2013, will allow the rare bears to stay longer.
"The Toronto Zoo helped bring the two pandas into this world and I think there's an argument to try and keep them for as long as we can," he said Monday.