December 27, 2013 at 4:05 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - 2013 has been another record-breaking year at Turtle Back Zoo as Westfield residents Mark, Miriam, Emma, Ava and Lila Aranowitz were congratulated as the 600,000th visitors.
Zoo Director Brint Spencer presented the family with a gift basket filled with zoo merchandise and a one year membership to the Essex County Zoological Society, guaranteeing a year of free visits to the zoo in 2014.
One of the gems of DiVincenzo's renaissance plan to revitalize Essex County and create a destination attraction at the South Mountain Recreation Complex, the Zoo has seen expansive renovation and building over the past year, with several promotional visits of support by Gov. Chris Christie.
"This has been such a wonderful year at Turtle Back Zoo. We celebrated the Zoo's 50th anniversary, opened our Sea Lion Sound Exhibit and now reached 600,000 in annual attendance for the first time," said Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.
DiVincenzo continued, "We have invested a lot to make Turtle Back Zoo a first class facility and the record-setting attendance validates our initiative. I want to thank the families, school and recreation groups, and individuals for making Turtle Back Zoo such a popular destination and for coming back again and again to spend their time with us. We look forward to welcoming everyone back for new adventures and family fun next year," he added.
The Aranowitz family stopped by the Zoo to see the Holiday Lights Spectacular at approximately 5:25 p.m. on Dec. 26. The family visits the zoo regularly and have been members of the Zoological Society for the past 8 years.
"We enjoy coming to Turtle Back Zoo in every season" said Miriam Aranowitz. "With all the animals and attractions, there's something for everyone."
Emma, 9, and Ava, 7, said their favorite animals were the penguins while Lila, 3, couldn't decide between penguins, carousel and train ride.
Attendance at Turtle Back Zoo has set a new record for the past nine years. In 2010, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo welcomed 511,655 visitors; In 2011, 525,507 visitors, and in 2012, attendance was 560,402.
For information on hours, membership, and entrance fees:
Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
Facebook: Turtle Back Zoo
Turtle Back Zoo, voted the best zoo in New Jersey, is AZA-accredited and features over 800 animals from around the world. Turtle Back Zoo is part of South Mountain Recreation Complex, located in West Orange, NJ. Opened in 1963, Turtle Back Zoo is committed to providing an enriching recreation experience that fosters excellence in wildlife education and wildlife conservation for present and future generations.