Essex County News

Turtle Back Zoo Breaks New Annual Attendance Record at 795,559

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., welcomes Stafon Kendrick and Melva Fleming and their, children Myles Fleming and Makenzie Kendrick, as the 795,559th visitors to Turtle Back Zoo in 2017 Credits: Essex County

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The Fleming-Kendrick family of Newark recently became the 795,559th visitors of the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo this year, establishing a new annual attendance record for the 13th-consecutive year and breaking the annual attendance record set last year.

Melva Fleming and Stafon Kendrick and their children, Myles Fleming and Makenzie Kendrick, arrived at the zoo to view the Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular and helped Turtle Back Zoo reach a new attendance milestone.

In recognition of the milestone, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., presented the Fleming-Kendrick family with 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.

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"I'm glad we came tonight. I've never won anything in my life," said Fleming, adding that her family visits the zoo during the year and has come to see the lights every winter.

A new annual attendance record has been set every year since 2005, with the previous attendance record of 795,558 visitors being set last year. The 500,000 milestone was first reached in 2010, 600,000 was first reached in 2013 and 700,000 was first reached in 2015.

DiVincenzo said that the large turnout of visitors each year shows how popular our zoo has become and the success of the recent improvements.

“Introducing new natural habitat exhibits like the African Adventure featuring lions, hyenas and giraffes, along with our Carousel, Treetop Adventure Course, miniGOLF Safari and Train Ride attractions, make coming to Turtle Back Zoo a fun, learning adventure for children and families," he said.

"We would not be here without the continuing support of our loyal visitors, sponsors, volunteers and staff," DiVincenzo said. "We look forward to seeing everyone next year for even more adventures, excitement and family fun.”

The Turtle Back Zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Through Nov. 30, regular admission is $12 for children and senior citizens, $15 for adults and free for children under 2 years of age. Beginning Dec. 1, admission is $10 for children and senior citizens, $12 for adults and free for children under 2 years of age. For additional information, call 973-731-5800 or visit

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