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Turtle Back Zoo Hits Milestone for First Time in History

A family from Westfield were welcomed at the zoo as the 600,000th visitors on Dec. 26. It is the first time in the zoo's history that attendance has been that high.

DiVincenzo gives the Aranowitz family a gift basket to mark the milestone. They all stand with Myrtle the Turtle, Zoo Director Brint Spencer and Essex County Parks Director Dan Salvante. Photo Credit by Glen Frieson.
DiVincenzo gives the Aranowitz family a gift basket to mark the milestone. They all stand with Myrtle the Turtle, Zoo Director Brint Spencer and Essex County Parks Director Dan Salvante. Photo Credit by Glen Frieson.
On Thursday, Dec. 26, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. welcomed the Aranowitz family of Westfield as the 600,000th visitors to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo during 2013.


This is the first time in the zoo's 50-year history that attendance has surpassed the 600,000 mark. The Aranowitz family came to see the Holiday Lights Spectacular.


"This has been such a wonderful year at Turtle Back Zoo. We celebrated the
zoo's 50th anniversary, opened our Sea Lion Sound Exhibit and now reached
600,000 in annual attendance for the first time," DiVincenzo said. "We have
invested a lot to make Turtle Back Zoo a first class facility and the
record-setting attendance validates our initiative. I want to thank the
families, school and recreation groups, and individuals for making Turtle
Back Zoo such a popular destination and for coming back again and again to
spend their time with us. We look forward to welcoming everyone back for new
adventures and family fun next year."


The Aranowitz family entered Turtle Back Zoo at about 5:25 p.m. to see the
Holiday Lights Spectacular. They are no strangers to the zoo, coming
regularly throughout the year and being members of the Zoological Society
for the last eight years.



"We enjoy coming to Turtle Back Zoo in every season," Miriam Aranowitz said. "With all the animals and attractions, there's something for everyone."

Miriam also said her family originally set out to arrive at the zoo at 5 p.m. but they were running behind schedule. The presentation of a large gift basket to celebrate the milestone brought excitement to her daughters and wiped away any aggravation of arriving late.

Emma, 9, and Ava, 7, said their favorite animals were the penguins while
their younger sister Lila, 3, couldn't make up her mind, citing the
penguins, carousel and train ride as her favorites.

In recognition of the milestone, DiVincenzo and Turtle Back Zoo Director
Brint Spencer presented the family with a gift basket filled with toys,
stuffed animals and merchandise from Turtle Back Zoo, along with a one-year
membership to the Essex County Zoological Society.

This is the ninth consecutive year a new annual attendance record has been
set at Turtle Back Zoo and the fourth consecutive year that attendance has
topped half a million.


In 2010, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo welcomed over 500,000 visitors for the first time in its history and finished the year with 511,655 visitors. In 2011, attendance was 525,507 and in 2012 attendance was 560,402. A new attendance record has been set every year since 2005, when 211,449 visitors came. Attendance over 300,000 was set in 2006 and attendance over 400,000 was set in 2007.

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