WEST ORANGE, NJ - Donald Mitchell and Jennifer Rodriguez from Avenel, along with their daughters 3-year-old Soli and 4-year-old Luna, became the 560,403rd visitors to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo during calendar year 2013 on Saturday.

"Between family outings and trips with their day care, we come about three times a year," said Jennifer Rodriguez. "This is such a beautiful place, and the small size of the zoo makes it perfect for our young daughters," Donald
Mitchell said. The parents said Luna and Soli both enjoy riding on the miniature train and getting up close to the animals in the Essex Farm Petting Zoo. Luna said her favorite animals were the penguins, while her sister Soli said she liked the llamas.

Attendance records continue to increase and the Mitchell/Rodriguez visit set a new annual attendance record at the Zoo for the ninth consecutive year.  Their visit also represents the fourth consecutive year that more than half a million visitors have come to Turtle Back Zoo.

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The family received a gift basket filled with toys, stuffed animals and merchandise from Turtle Back Zoo, along with a one-year membership to the Essex County Zoological Society. 

Turtle Back Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Regular admission is $8 for children and senior citizens, $11 for adults and free for children under 2 years. For additional information, call (973) 731-5800 or visit www.essexcountynj.org.