Honolulu Zoo Society lays out suggestions to improve business in quest for reaccreditation


The city is continuing to work to help the Honolulu Zoo win back accreditation — this after the zoo’s main revenue stream, ticket sales, has steadily declined over the last four years.

The Department of Enterprise Services submitted a report to the city council detailing what the Honolulu Zoo Society has come up with to help the facility gain back accreditation from the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums.

Some of the biggest concerns facing the zoo include not having a consistent revenue stream and a lack of stable leadership.

The Zoo Society’s job is to get the zoo back on track toward accreditation, and in their final report put out this month, the group describes some of the steps that need to be taken to make that happen.

“We all want the zoo to be successful and depending primarily on just the taxpayers dollars is not a successful model,” said councilwoman Kymberly Pine.

The Zoo Society recently paid for a study to find a new business model for the zoo going forward.

And here are some of the suggestions:

  • enhanced food and catering facilities
  • behind-the-scenes experiences
  • evening luaus on zoo grounds

The Zoo Society says $1.6 million dollars in revenue could be generated from the changes.

“One of the ways we support the zoo with your commissioning studies such as this one, there’s an research study we use those to help the city to guide the zoo and figure out what’s the next best steps,” said David Earles, the executive director of the Honolulu Zoo Society.

Another study commissioned by the Zoo Society focused partly on prices, saying the Honolulu Zoo experience is presently underpriced in all demographic categories and that modest price increases in each category should result in increased zoo revenue.

The zoo will soon be getting a portion of property tax revenues in an amount in the neighborhood of $6.5 million.

At this point, these are just recommendations. It’s up to the city to work with the zoo to pick and choose what will be implemented.

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