ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – How would you like to pay $25 to get into the zoo?
KRQE News 13 has learned the city has conducted a study to see how much it would have to charge to get into the BioPark to help the BioPark pay for itself. This comes as taxpayers are footing more and more of the bill to keep the BioPark running.
The subject of raising zoo or aquarium prices is political poison. No one wants to say it could be on the table, but they are studying the idea. With more than a million visitors each year, the BioPark is the most popular destination in the state, with the zoo as the star attraction.
“I’ve seen other zoos and it’s very comparable to cities of this size, as far as the quality and the variety,” says Lynn Loomis.
The BioPark costs about $18 million to run.
“Right now, we bring in approximately $7 million in revenue, most of that comes from attendance fees,” says Cultural Services Director, Dr. Shelle Sanchez.
The city council wanted to know what the BioPark would have to charge to generate enough revenue to pay for itself and not rely on the city’s general fund. Right now, ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for kids who live in New Mexico.
Cultural Services conducted a study and found those prices would have to more than double for the BioPark to be self-sufficient. Out-of-state visitors would have to pay up to $35.
“We can’t charge what a zoo in a bigger city can charge. We don’t have the same economy as some places, and I feel like that could be prohibitive to some families,” says Susan Carrico.
Sanchez says no one is proposing a ticket hike at this time. But visitors say if prices do eventually go up, they’d likely spend less time at the zoo.
“I would probably want it to be under $20 to get in, and I think once it got above that I wouldn’t come as often,” Carrico says.
In a report sent to the city council, Cultural Services says any dramatic price hike could scare enough people away that the BioPark would end up making even less money.
Just to be clear, that study was just meant to see what it would take for the BioPark to be more self-sufficient. While the city says ticket prices are up for discussion every year, no one is proposing any dramatic price hikes.