ABQ BioPark Plans a Path Forward to Maintain Facility
Posted: August 17, 2012
Updated: November 6, 2012
The daily wear and tear of accommodating more than 1.2 million visitors annually at its four attractions—the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden and Tingley Beach—has started to take its toll on New Mexico's number one visited destination. The ABQ BioPark is increasing its admission fees next month in order to maintain the institution's buildings and exhibits and preserve the future of one of New Mexico's most beloved jewels.
UPDATE: New admission fees were put into effect on Sept. 4 and a second rate change approved by City Council on 11/5/12 will go into effect December 1, 2012 (see update below for details). The increased fees are expected to raise revenue needed for maintenance and repairs. This is the first significant fee increase for a single-admission ticket in nearly ten years. The new BioPark fees remain significantly less than other zoos and aquariums in the Southwest.
"The BioPark is a favorite of citizens and visitors to Albuquerque. An increase in fees will help us maintain and improve the BioPark," said Rick Janser, director of the ABQ BioPark. "If we don't take the steps now to care for our BioPark, we will soon have a facility that is no longer known for its world-class experience."
Maintaining Excellent Facilities and Experiences
The fee increase is a recommendation set forth by a task force assembled by Mayor Richard J. Berry in 2011. The task force was formed to assess the BioPark's needs and the effectiveness of its current construction program. Working alongside a newly-hired project manager, the task force developed the following recommendations:
- Create a master plan to guide the growth of the BioPark during the next 15 to 20 years;
- Establish a long-term and proactive maintenance plan;
- Create a maintenance team to oversee deferred and ongoing maintenance needs; and
- Increase admission fees as a mechanism to create a lasting and engaging experience for BioPark guests.
BioPark management is moving forward with these recommendations and instituting changes which will significantly improve the administration's ability to run the BioPark more efficiently and create a proactive maintenance program. The task force found that the $18 million in deferred maintenance costs are a result of the past practice of creating new facilities and exhibits before providing for maintenance and repairs for existing facilities.
The BioPark consists of more than 95 buildings—some of which are more than 50 years old—and exhibits on 110 acres. As the state's most visited tourist attraction, the Zoo, Aquarium and Botanic Garden welcome more than 1.2 million visitors annually. In addition, Tingley Beach sees an estimated 300,000 visitors each year.
UPDATE: New Admission Fees
Starting on Dec. 1, 2012, the admission fee for the Zoo or Aquarium/Botanic Garden will be $12.50 for adults, $5.50 for seniors (65+) and $4 children (3-12). The price of a combination ticket, which includes admission to the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden and unlimited train rides, will be $20 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for children.
NM residents with proof of residency qualify for discounted adult and senior rates (Single admission - $9 for adults, $4.50 for seniors. Combo - $15 for adults, $8 for seniors.)
Tingley Beach remains a free facility. School group pricing for field trips will remain $1.50 for students (pre-K to 12th grade) and $3 for adult chaperones. Last year, nearly 80,000 students took a field trip to the BioPark.
Additionally, for the first time in its history, the BioPark will offer half off days. For four weekends per year, single admission tickets to the BioPark will be cheaper than before. The special discount weekends will occur once every three months. The first discount weekend is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, 2012. All single admission tickets will be half-off.
BioPark Member Changes
The BioPark foundation supports the fee increase. "The New Mexico BioPark Society exists to promote the development of the ABQ BioPark and this increase will assist in its mission to provide the foremost educational and entertainment venue in the Southwest," said NMBPS Executive Director Julie Miller Rugg. "To ensure that the BioPark remains a source of pride for our community we all need to give it our full support."
"As we wrap up our celebration of the Zoo's 85th birthday, we can look forward to many more anniversary celebrations for excellent facilities that Albuquerque is fortunate to call its own. We are very proud," said Janser, "that the BioPark will remain a viable, exciting and affordable treasure in our community."