Hunter Valley Zoo records strong visitor numbers over long weekend

HUNTER Valley Zoo at Nulkaba had more than 1000 visitors on Easter Sunday, which owner and manager Jason Pearson said marked the first weekend of shows in a year.

Mr Pearson said at lunch on Sunday that more than 1000 visitors had walked through the doors, after 1200 on Easter Saturday. He said the zoo was expecting further strong numbers on Easter Monday.

"They're really good numbers through here and it's a good weekend as far as the weather goes," he said.

"It's lower numbers than what we had when we first reopened [last June] after COVID, our first school holidays [after 13 weeks of closure] were even busier than [now], but our market was a bit more captive in a sense that people weren't travelling very far."

Mr Pearson said around 70 per cent of the visitors over the long weekend were using the government's Discover NSW vouchers.

"They've been great," he said. "For people to come here as an adult it's only $7 to get in. The phone hasn't stopped ringing today about tomorrow and most of them are saying 'Can we use the voucher?'

"It's a very good incentive for small businesses and gets people out and about and encourages tourism."

He said interactive yards where children could engage with kangaroos and farmyard animals were the most popular attractions.

Mr Pearson said the zoo started reintroducing its animal shows last Tuesday and has koala, lion, meerkat and monkey shows.

It had not been able to stage shows under rules that restricted the number of people that could gather in one place.

Mr Pearson said the shows were another sign of the return to normality after the zoo closed for 13 weeks last year due to COVID-19 and for five days from March 20 this year due to flooding.

"We were a great option as soon as we reopened, we're an outdoor venue so we didn't have the restrictions of indoor venues, people wanted to get back to nature after being cooped up for such a long period of time and people were starting to appreciate some of the simple things, the animals, getting back and having family outings."

A third giraffe, Kibiba, will arrive on April 23.

This story Hunter Valley Zoo records strong visitor numbers over long weekend first appeared on Newcastle Herald.