Honolulu Zoo Society explores ways to attract visitors, raise key funds

Local News

After losing accreditation earlier this year, Honolulu Zoo is looking to make some changes to get it back.

As we’ve reported before, its main problem is money.

Back in March, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums pulled accreditation because it was concerned the zoo wasn’t getting adequate funding on a consistent basis.

Following up, we found out there are some new ideas to get more money for the zoo, including adding some new attractions.

It’s been about five years since the last major renovation was completed at Honolulu Zoo, and some visitors say it’s time for some upgrades.

“I think it was alright. I think it could have been better,” said visitor Andreana Steelman. “This one looks just a little rundown in some of the animals’ living spaces.”

A survey emailed on behalf of the Honolulu Zoo Society, a non-profit that provides funds for the zoo as well as educational and volunteer programs, is asking folks what kinds of things would make them visit the zoo.

They include a children’s play area with a carousel, a water play area, behind-the-scenes tours, and new or modern animal exhibits.

“I think the kid part is awesome and I think if they made it a little more kid-friendly, that would be awesome,” Steelman said.

“I’d probably bring my son once a month or a lot more often because that’s cool if they can actually see what’s happening behind the scenes and he’ll know what’s going on at the zoo,” said visitor Kelsie Yamamoto.

The society is spending $43,000 for surveys to Honolulu Zoo Society members, as well as the intercept interviews with kamaaina and out-of-market visitors.

“The Honolulu Zoo Society has retained a company to conduct market research among Oahu residents, Honolulu Zoo visitors, and members of the Honolulu Zoo Society. The results will help to inform the Honolulu Zoo, the Society, the city and other stakeholders as we continue to work together to formulate a plan to ensure a secure financial future for the Honolulu Zoo,” Honolulu Zoo Society’s interim executive director Jennifer Barrett said in a statement.

On top of this, we found out the budget recently approved by the city council has another $25,000 set aside to spend on a consultant to study ways to improve zoo revenue.

The budget also includes more than $2 million for various improvements to the zoo, including the planning and design of a new parking structure.

Earlier this year, a new law allowing the public and organizations to sponsor zoo exhibits and facilities was passed, but we checked and the process is still being ironed out, so no funding has come in from that yet.

The results of the survey are expected to be ready later this month. A spokesperson for the zoo society tells us it’ll be included in a report that’ll be shared with the zoo, the city and other stakeholders.

The earliest the zoo can reapply for accreditation is March 1, 2017.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories