Junior Museum and Zoo ticket prices may go up

This story first appeared in the Daily Post’s print edition on Friday morning. If you want important local stories before everyone else, pick up the Post in the mornings at 1,000 Mid-Peninsula locations.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is only bringing in half the money it needs to support its operation, so the city is looking at raising the ticket price.

Previous attempts to set the ticket price at $18 have failed because people thought it was too expensive.

The city estimated it would sell 138,780 tickets for the fiscal year ending in June. In fact, the zoo sold less than half that amount: 62,634.

Revenue for renting out the zoo for events like birthday parties was also less than one-third of what was projected.

The zoo used $1.3 million from the city’s General Fund last year, while the goal is for that number to be $0.

Change in control possible

Along with raising ticket prices, the Palo Alto Finance Committee will also talk about having the nonprofit fundraising group the Friends of the Junior Museum and Zoo run the zoo rather than the city. The Finance Committee is made up of three council members and meets on Tuesday night.

When the city talked about raising ticket prices in May 2021 ahead of a grand re-opening last year, the nonprofit that raised $25 million to remodel the facility asked council to reconsider.

Finding the right price

Lauren Angelo, board president of the Friends of the JMZ, told the Post that her nonprofit wanted the fee to be closer to $6-$8. Admittance was free before the zoo was remodeled.

“We’re really concerned that it will undermine the goodwill of the community and it will really impact our ability to fundraise for the JMZ in the future, and will also have an impact on people willing to donate to other capital projects in the city,” Angelo said.

The nonprofit also believed a higher ticket price would reduce the number of visitors, and actually lower overall revenue.

“Because so many people will be turned off and turned away by the exorbitant ticket price, visitorship will go down,” she said.

Mayor Pat Burt agreed that an $18 ticket was too high, and council landed on $10 for admission.

This time around, the nonprofit wasn’t ready to weigh in.

“The goal of the Friends is to work with the city of Palo Alto to make the JMZ as affordable and accessible as possible,” the group said in an emailed statement.

1 Comment

  1. I am already turned off by the $10 entrance fee. I would hope the center would want as many children attending as possible. It should not be just for wealthy or one-child families.
    Lower the price and you’ll double the attendance. It is too wonderful an experience to deny to children.

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