Record set in 2015 surpassed by more than 33,500 visitors.



Zoo Knoxville welcomed 473,679 visitors in 2016, reaching a new attendance record for the second year in a row and exceeding the record set in 2015 by 33,564 people.


While more than 202,000 zoo-goers came from Knoxville and the surrounding counties, more than half of all visitors (58%) were tourists whose impact to the local economy amounted to more than $36 million.  The number of tourists visiting the zoo increased by 5% over 2015.


“We began the year by unveiling new branding for the zoo, and put the emphasis on our personality, which is wildly fun on the outside and serious about animals on the inside,” said Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New.  “We continued to focus on making sure each guest had a memorable zoo experience and elevating that at every opportunity.  Those efforts were reflected in the enthusiasm we heard from our local community and the positive things our visitors were saying on Trip Advisor.  Making sure our guests not only see animals, but have the chance to connect with them through a personal encounter with one of our animal ambassadors is the direction we will continue in 2017 with the opening of Tiger Forest, our biggest project in our 68-year history.”


“Zoo Knoxville continues to be Knoxville’s most visited attraction, and a key part of the master plan we developed in 2014 is to increase the number of tourists who make the zoo a destination while visiting East Tennessee,” said Eddie Mannis, Chair of Zoo Knoxville’s Board of Directors.  “Our continued tourism growth will make the impact we have on our local economy here in Knoxville and Knox County even greater.”


The attendance for 2016 exceeded the zoo’s previous record, set the prior year in 2015, when 440,115 guests visited the zoo.


Zoo Knoxville is open year-round and October was the highest attended month with 91,622 visitors.  According to zip code data, visitors came from all 50 states, the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.