Detroit Zoo Boosts Local Economy with Impact of $100M


ROYAL OAK — A study by CSL International on the economic impacts associated with the operation of the Detroit Zoo found that the single largest paid family attraction in Michigan had a total economic impact of $100.2 million in the metro Detroit community in 2013.

Based on actual financial and visitor data, the economic impact from Zoo operations, vendors and visitors generated more than $60.6 million in direct spending, with a total output of $100.2 million when combined with indirect and induced spending. The Zoo also was a significant source of employment and earnings, supporting 1,082 full- and part-time jobs and $35.3 million in wages and benefits.

Although the Detroit Zoo attracts many residents of Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, St. Clair and Lapeer counties, more than 40 percent of visitors in 2013 came from outside the five counties. In addition to spending at the zoo, these guests accounted for an estimated $25.2 million in off-site spending on dining, lodging, fuel and other purchases such as retail and groceries. The Zoo has attracted 11.4 million guests over the past decade, with more than 1.3 million visitors in 2013, a 16-year high.

“As a world-class family attraction that draws visitors from throughout the state, across the country and around the world, the Detroit Zoo has a significant impact on the region, enhancing the reputation of our community, providing jobs to our residents and drawing families and individuals to the region’s other attractions and businesses,” said Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Larry Alexander.

The Detroit Zoo is also an important educational asset, hosting more than 25,000 students annually and 145,000 pre-school and school-aged children engaged through field trips, camps, overnights and family programs.

The complete economic impact report can be viewed on the Detroit Zoo’s website at

In addition, the Detroit Zoo plans to spend $50 million over the next five years on new exhibits, including the Polk Penguin Conservation Center slated to open in 2015. More than 100 design, engineering and construction jobs will be created and sustained for the estimated two-year development period, and the facility will add several full-time employees to the zoo staff. With an associated annual increase of at least 100,000 visitors, the new attraction is expected to have a regional economic impact of several million dollars per year, adding to the $100.2 million economic impact the zoo already has on the region.