Client News Tourism has been a key to the zoo’s booming growth

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

By: Tony Vecchio

My favorite part of the end of the year is reflecting on all the ways the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens helped serve and educate our community, furthering our vision of inspiring discovery and appreciation of the Earth’s wildlife.

But none of this would be possible without tourists, who enable the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to be promoted, maintained and operated so residents in five counties can enjoy it.

And for us, the benefits of tourism are even more wide-ranging.

attracting 1 million guests

As one of the top economic engines for Duval County, we attract about 1 million guests to our area each year.

And these guests allow us to live out our passion each day.

Educating our community’s children is one of these passions — and we are proud to welcome 100,000 Duval County students for free field trips every year, as well as develop other innovative educational experiences.

Conservation is another passion, and tourists provide the revenue needed to fund various conservation efforts, such as taking care of stranded, sick and injured creatures through our Marine Mammal Response Team and Manatee Critical Care Center.

Our herpetology staff raises endangered amphibians at the zoo while our horticulture team protects orchids and other endangered plants.

visitors help fuel the growth

Our educational and conservation initiatives wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated team members.

Thanks to visitors, more than 300 employees are employed by the zoo, and the $12.6 million in wages we pay annually helps them provide for their families and maintain their livelihood.

We love our Duval County community, and watching the role the zoo plays in Jacksonville’s success is another favorite part of my job.

When tourists visit Jacksonville to experience our zoo, other businesses in our area benefit as well.

For example, zoo visitors spent more than $6.8 million throughout the community during the year 2015.

As with any nonprofit, funding is a struggle. That’s why tourists are so important to our zoo— they keep our doors open.

As I reflect on the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden’s success during 2017, one thing is clear:

Tourists allow us to educate Duval County children, care for animals and improve our environment. And those tourists help to make Duval County a better place to live.

Tony Vecchio,

executive director,

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens,



Read here:

« Return to News