The price of a weekday adult admission to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore will rise by $2, a move administrators say will help compensate for a drop in revenues received from the state, county and city governments.
The new entry tab will rise from $11 to $13 for adults. The senior ticket price will rise from $10 to $11. Children's admissions will remain unchanged, and weekend and online admission rates are not affected.
Zoo officials said they had been notified of a drop in contributions by Baltimore City, Harford and Howard counties, as well as the state's Department of Education. Baltimore County did not reduce its aid to the zoo, located in Druid Hill Park.
"It costs the zoo $33,000 a day just to open, whether there is one visitor or 1,000," said Terry Slade Young, a zoo vice president.
She said the zoo relies heavily on its 9,600 household annual memberships. She also said paid attendance varies considerably. On a rainy day last week, the zoo had just 18 admissions. During July, attendance was up 20 percent over 2008.
"During the first two months of the 2010 fiscal year our revenues have been reduced by local and state governments by over $200,000, which is a substantial loss for us," said Don Hutchinson, the zoo's interim president. "Like other organizations, we are already operating with a close eye on our bottom line. However, the zoo currently operates without a reserve fund and has no endowment."
The increased prices go into effect Monday.
"We will not do anything that will diminish the visitor experience or the quality of our education programs, and we will not do anything that will adversely affect our animals," Hutchinson said. "So after considering a number of options, we are choosing to move in this direction."
The weekend admission prices are holding steady at $15 for adults and $10 for children. Zoo patrons receive a discount at all times, weekdays and weekends, by ordering online.
"In addition, we will be considering every avenue available in order to raise more private dollars," Hutchinson continued. "We will be asking managers to become even more efficient in budget management, more conservative when filling vacancies, and more imaginative when solving problems."
Hutchinson said the zoo will remain open this year until Dec. 31, and reopen March 1. "We encourage people to come visit us over the next few months," he said, "as many of the animals are more active in the cool fall weather."