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Photo via Detroit Zoo Facebook Page

The Detroit Zoo is seeing a surge in popularity, and for the ninth year in a row attendance is more than one million.

It “smashed” their modern-day attendance record in 2015 according to officials, attracting 1,476,378 visitors. The previous record, set in 1997, was 1,364,905.

 

A end of year contributor to the stunning total was Wild Lights, the Detroit Zoo’s annual holiday light display that drew more than 144,000 guests.

Other highlights were the new Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, which opened in June and the Dinosauria exhibit with 40 animatronic dinosaurs.

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center, scheduled to open in April (here is some video of the new penguins that includes renderings of the new building), and that is expected to increase the Detroit Zoo’s attendance even more.

It will be the largest penguin facility in the world, home to more than 80 birds of four species – gentoo, macaroni, rockhopper and king.

“Good weather for most of the year, Wild Lights, wolves, dinosaurs and continued improvements in operations and facilities are all contributing factors,” said Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society executive director and CEO. “We’re grateful to our community for another fantastic year and look forward to providing even more outstanding experiences in 2016.”