Belfast Zoo has measured its most successful quarter in ten years, with visitor levels up over 50 percent on pre-Covid figures.
At this week’s meeting of Belfast Council’s City Growth and Regeneration Committee (Wednesday August 11th), elected representatives received an update on the zoo’s performance in the April to June quarter this year.
The zoo, which is run by the council, was closed to the public at the start of this period due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and reopened on April 30th as an outdoor attraction only.
A takeaway catering service was provided in the zoo’s small Treetop Café located at the top of the zoo. Indoor animal houses, excluding the Rainforest House, reopened to the public on May 24th.
Despite this, since the end of April, the zoo saw significant visitor demand with the majority of weekends throughout May and June being fully booked. During this quarter the zoo welcomed 84,000 visitors over the two-month period it was open – an increase of 54% compared to average number of visitors in the May to June period since 2014.
This is even more impressive considering the Covid period’s daily capacity of 2,475 persons and the introduction of one-way systems.
During this period the zoo saw the birth of a baby Rothschild Giraffe, improvements in the sea lion enclosure, and water quality improvements. It went under budget by £309,000 over the three months.
DUP Alderman Brian Kingston told the committee: “When I read the report I was very surprised given all the circumstances that it had such a strong performance – I want to congratulate all the staff.
“We are actually up on the pre-Covid visitor numbers – that is remarkable, a great achievement. There is a value in people taking time to book a slot, one that is to our advantage, as people are committing to come. I hope we will continue that model in the longer term.
“The financial performance has always been a concern in the background, and there has been considerable advances on that.”