Pittsburgh Zoo attendance declines sharply after fatality
Attendance at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium dropped by the thousands in the two months since a pack of African painted dogs mauled a toddler to death.
Officials at the facility in Highland Park attributed the decline to wintry weather and said it would be difficult to determine whether the mauling kept visitors away.
The zoo closed the afternoon of the tragedy and remained shuttered the next day. Officials said they would not try to boost attendance to make up for those lost days or any lost to snowfall.
“We'll continue on with what we normally do,” zoo spokeswoman Tracy Gray said.
The dogs killed Maddox Derkosh, 2, of Whitehall on Nov. 4 when the boy, on an outing with his mother, fell from an observation deck railing into the exhibit in front of horrified visitors.
Allegheny County officials did not file charges. Zoo officials closed the exhibit and removed its observation deck. They have no immediate plan to put the animals, members of an endangered species, back on display.
Zoo attendance for November and December totaled 39,066, the lowest figure since at least 2008, when 52,252 people visited during those months. The combined attendance is down between 7,800 and 14,877 visitors over comparable figures during the four-year period.
“Weather is one of the major factors that affect our attendance, as (with) any outdoor event,” Gray said. “If it's sunny or bright, people will come, but if it's raining or snowing, it's kind of a deterrent.”
Yet in December 2008, the weather averaged 5 degrees colder than last month, with temperatures averaged 38.1 degrees, the National Weather Service records show. December 2012 was slightly wetter, with 5.53 inches of precipitation compared with 4.7 inches in December 2008.
In November 2008, the average temperature was 40.1 degrees; in November 2012, 39.6 degrees. The weather service recorded precipitation of 0.38 inches in November, compared with 2 inches in November 2008.
Bad or good weather on weekends or holidays can really affect attendance, said Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Silver Springs, Md. Gray said the zoo closed on Dec. 26 and on Dec. 29, a Saturday, because of snowfall.
“When an unfortunate incident like (the mauling) occurs, we don't generally see any corresponding drop in attendance,” Feldman said. “Community members are very supportive of zoos when these things happen. People don't alter their plans because of something like this, in general.”
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Security policies limit ‘insider threat’ at airports, TSA says
- SWAT incident in Ross ends peacefully
- Pet chiropractic more popular in Western Pa., but doubts linger
- Attorney wants evidence from South Allegheny teacher’s cellphone thrown out
- Police find marijuana grow rooms in Castle Shannon
- Maryland man found with missing Ohio girl in Pittsburgh motel
- Pittsburgh police chief finds use-of-force policies ‘quite satisfactory’
- Suspect in Glassport man’s shooting death put on house arrest
- Buffalo man killed by truck in the West End Circle wanted ‘a fresh start’
- 2nd command officer at Allegheny County Jail punished
- Posing as refugees not easiest path to U.S. for ISIS jihadists