Update (May 7, 2:55 p.m.): The Phoenix Zoo said tickets have sold out for both Saturday and Sunday, May 9-10 and May 16-17 and due to the popularity, have added more dates. Tickets have been added for Monday, May 11 and May 18. They have also extended the experience to May 22-25 and 29-31.
The Phoenix Zoo is transforming itself into a drive-thru attraction -- at least temporarily -- as a way to let people experience the zoo in a new way, but also to help raise funds needed to support the zoo and the animals.
Since closing in March, during what it normally the peak of the season, the nonprofit zoo has lost nearly $4.5 million, revenue that usually comes from memberships, admission, special events, concessions, and sales at the gift shop, said Linda Hardwick, spokesperson for the zoo. She said that funding goes on to support the animals and maintenance of the zoo.
"Everything that we get from philanthropic donations, fundraising events, gate admission, concessions, goes towards the care and maintenance of the zoo and our animals, which we have 3,000 animals," she said. "They still need to eat. They still need medical care. They still need all the attention and keepers who are essential to be here. They have to be here taking care of these animals."
So, they came up with a unique way for people to experience the zoo safely and raise much-needed funds.
Called "Cruise The Zoo," people will be able to drive their vehicles along the zoo's pathways passing by the flamingos, giraffes, elephants, orangutans habitats, as well as other animals.
Initially, tours were available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for May 8-10 and May 15-17. However, both Saturdays and Sundays sold out in less than 24 hours. Because of that, the zoo has added more dates:
- Monday, May 11
- Monday, May 18
- Friday - Monday, May 22-25
- Friday - Sunday, May 29-31
The cost is $50 per vehicle for zoo members and $65 per vehicle for non-members. Tickets have to be purchased in advance and can be bought via the zoo's website, www.phoenixzoo.org/cruisethezoo.
The Zoo will be open from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. The last vehicle will be allowed in at 1 p.m.
Normally, zoo admission is typically $16-$25 per person.
A maximum of 600 tickets will be sold each day. Once a day is sold out, people will have to try and purchase tickets for another day. As of Wednesday evening, Hardwick said more than 1,200 tickets had already been purchased.
Each tour will last about 30 minutes, the zoo said. An audio tour will be available through the zoo's website. They have also created a "Frequently Asked Questions" web page with additional information.
Vehicles can not be larger than a full-size long-bed truck or no larger than 266″ L x 81″ W x 74″ H.
"We are really excited about this because this has never been done before here at the Phoenix Zoo," said Hardwick. "They can roll down their windows, stick their head out of the sun roof, and they can cruise the zoo."
IF YOU GO:
Phoenix Zoo - Cruise The Zoo
455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix AZ 85008