ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque's zoo is home to a plethora of animals, with everything from polar bears to lions.
A little more than a year ago, it was also home to an unpopular announcement.
Citing millions in maintenance backlogs, Mayor R.J. Berry decided to unilaterally raise ticket prices at the BioPark, which includes the city's aquarium and botanic gardens. It was the first such price hike since 2002 and went into effect in November.
City council members questioned whether city administration had the authority to raise prices on its own. In November, the council voted to roll back prices slightly on state residents while increasing fees for out-of-state visitors.
Even so, some council members were skeptical, predicting BioPark attendance would suffer.
"I'm still concerned that it's going to keep some people out that can now no longer afford to go to the BioPark," city council member Ken Sanchez said in November.
City administration was even planning for a drop of around three percent.
"We'd anticipated losing around 36,000 attendees," said John Soladay, Albuquerque's Chief Operations Officer.
But according to numbers provided by the city, attendance has actually been up even with the price hike.
Over a 10-month period from September to June, the BioPark admitted 5,719 more people than it did the year before, a slight increase.
Soladay credits a couple of factors for the surprising statistic, good weather and a zoo baby boom.
Chopper the rhino went on display in February. Pixel the orangutan and Abiquiu the giraffe were both born in April. Twin snow leopard cubs were born the following month and Rozie the elephant is expecting.
Zoo visitors News 13 spoke to Sunday said they had noticed the increase, but decided to go anyway.
"It was enough that it annoyed me, but it wasn't enough to stop me from coming here to the zoo," said Casey May.
"The ticket rise [didn't have an effect] on me and my family," said Patrick Moya, who brought his family up from Socorro. "It's just something to do, bring the kids out, have fun."
To make up for the ticket price hike, the BioPark is running four half-price weekends every year. The next scheduled one is in mid-October. Overall, more than 1.2 million people visit the BioPark annually.
While the roads were looking clearer Friday morning in the Albuquerque area, appearances can be deceiving
Today's top headlines with Matt Mauro and Elizabeth Alvarez. Weather with Meteorologist Kristen Van Dyke
In nearly seven decades spent fighting for freedom and equality, Nelson Mandela inspired and challenged the world to stand up for others. As word of Mandela's death spread, current and former presidents, athletes and entertainers, and …
Four and a half years after he went to prison, former state senate leader Manny Aragon is out.
A suspected meth kingpin the FBI thought might be hiding out in New Mexico has been captured.
The popular Capulin Snow Play Area near Sandia Peak will be closed for the second year in a row.