Warm weather and new exhibit resulting in record attendance for Fresno Chaffee Zoo

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The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a much livelier and crowded place these days, as thousands of visitors head to Roeding Park. (KFSN)

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a much livelier and crowded place these days, as thousands of visitors head to Roeding Park to see the animals inside the newly renovated zoo.

"The attendance since African Adventures opened has been double, for the most part, what we were looking at a year ago at this time. Every single month has been a record month. We saw 115,000 visitors in March, which is a record for us," said Alisha Anderson, Fresno Chaffee Zoo Chief Marketing and Development.

Anderson is still amazed at the growing number of people heading to the zoo. In April, they saw 130,000 visitors, but it's not just returning members and locals.

"But we're also seeing a lot of people travel here, not just from the Valley, but from LA and San Francisco."

In fact, the zoo could hit a major milestone by the end of 2016.

"The way we are looking this year. We just might have one million visitors this year. A few years ago in our wildest dreams we couldn't have imagined, and now we're looking at numbers like the San Diego Zoo," said Anderson.

Bigger numbers mean bigger crowds though. On Sunday, 7,000 people came out, and officials want to remind people to plan ahead.

"I would say, if you're going to come on the weekend-- come early. Plan to spend a little time getting into Roeding Park, parking, and a little time walking to the entrance," said Anderson.

Anderson also said they have added 200 parking spaces nearby and are looking into long-term solutions. She said people can also come during the week for a more intimate experience.

Once inside, she said the zoo the crowds spread out inside the zoo, but it's a problem they're glad to be dealing with.

"12 years after we almost closed, it's the best success story you can ask for."

Success due to the passage of Measure Z and community support.

The zoo has big plans for the future. In a couple of years they'll expand their tiger exhibit, and then phase two of African Adventures will continue with the three acre home of the hippos and crocodiles.

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