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Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Aquarium Support Regional and National Economy

Atlanta (September 15, 2011) –

Co-hosted by Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Aquarium from September 12 through September 17, the annual conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) will draw more than 1,500 experts and vendors from throughout North America. The conference highlights not only the scientific expertise of these two host institutions and their colleagues, but also the significant economic benefits Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Aquarium generate locally, regionally and nationally, according to a new analysis conducted on behalf of AZA.

“Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Aquarium support the community in many ways,” said Jim Maddy, President and CEO of AZA. “Not only do Georgia Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta have a deep commitment to science education and wildlife conservation, but they also generate valuable economic benefits to the Southeastern U.S.”

“Zoo Atlanta is the city’s oldest cultural institution, and as such, has become one of Atlanta’s most beloved resources and an important component of students’ science education,” said Raymond King, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. “It’s important to recognize, however, that the Zoo isn’t just an Atlanta resource. Our organization also has an impact on the state, national and even international levels, considering our long-standing giant panda conservation partnership with China.”

“As the world’s largest aquarium and one of Atlanta’s most compelling attractions, Georgia Aquarium educates and inspires millions of guests each year,” said David Kimmel, president and COO of Georgia Aquarium.  “Welcoming guests from all around the world, we are proud to help drive tourism in the city and state.”

AZA has commissioned a state-by-state economic impact analysis conducted by nationally recognized economist, Dr. Stephen Fuller.  AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums generated the following impacts for the state of Georgia:

• $206.5 million in economic activity (contribution to national GDP);
• $72.5 million in personal earnings (salaries and wages); and
• 2,055 jobs

“Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Aquarium play a significant role in the economy of Georgia, as do zoos and aquariums in each of their local communities,” added Maddy.

Zoo Atlanta is a valuable community resource, including visits by 130,000 school children every year, and a vital role in wildlife conservation. Beyond these important community benefits, Zoo Atlanta has the following economic impact:

• Zoo Atlanta employs 158 full-time employees;
• Zoo Atlanta spends approximately $16 million each year on goods and services;
• Zoo Atlanta serves an average of 700,000 visitors each year

Georgia Aquarium has welcomed more than 500,000 students since its opening in 2005, and is proud of its education, animal conservation and research programs.  In addition, Georgia Aquarium is a key economic driver for the city and the region:

• Georgia Aquarium welcomes 2.2 million annual guests;
• Georgia Aquarium employs 637 full-and-part-time employees, providing a total of $20 million in payroll and benefits annually, with nearly 250 additional positions that support catering, retail and parking operations;
• Georgia Aquarium has generated $23.1 million in sales tax to date, through its core operation

Dr. Fuller writes in his report:

“Annual spending by zoos and aquariums for operations and capital projects generate significant economic benefits for their host jurisdictions. These benefits build from the initial outlays, as they are re-spent across the breadth of the economy.  These benefits accumulate and expand the economy’s total output as measured by their contributions to Gross Domestic Product and respective Gross State Products.  These benefits also generate new personal earnings to the benefit of workers residing in the host jurisdictions and support job growth locally, regionally and nationally.”

The cumulative economic impact of 212 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums as they serve more than 179 million annual visitors is as follows:

• $16.0 billion in economic activity (contribution to national GDP);
• $ 4.7 billion in personal earnings (salaries and wages);
• 142,000 jobs

A copy of the report can be found at

About Zoo Atlanta
An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta inspires value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family fun. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with more than 1,000 animals from around the world. Complex Carnivores, a new series of exhibits featuring bush dogs, fossa and binturong, opened on April 1. Zoo Atlanta is also proud to be one of only four zoos in the U.S. that giant pandas call home: Lun Lun’s newest cub, Po, born November 3, 2010, made his public debut in spring 2011. Other highlights include the nation’s largest collection of western lowland gorillas, the nation’s largest zoological collection of orangutans and a global center of excellence for the care and study of vanishing reptiles and amphibians. The Zoo is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, call 404.624.WILD or visit 

About Georgia Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than 10 million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards; offering engaging and exciting guest experiences promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit

About the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, please visit

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