Study reveals MKE Co. Zoo is economic driver

Posted at 5:08 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 20:23:33-05
MILWAUKEE -- A new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee shows just how much the Milwaukee County Zoo impacts the economy at the local and state level.
“For me and many other people, it’s one of the best zoos in the whole Wisconsin," Jose Estremera said.
Estremera is a physical science teacher at South Division High School. He brought his students to the zoo Wednesday for a lesson outside of the classroom.
“[My students] can connect what we’re studying [to] a program [the zoo] already has set up," Estremera continued.
According to the study, it's programs like the one Estremera mention that continues to bring visitors from Metropolitan Milwaukee and outlying counties to the zoo giving way to an economic impact to the four-county area that includes: Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha. The impact is valued at $155.5 -- a dollar amount that's increased by almost 25 percent over the past ten years. 

“With [over] 1.3 million visitors each year, they generate revenues not only just by coming to the zoo," zoo director, Charles Wikenhauser said. "But [also] by buying gas in the area, they may stay overnight, they go to restaurants, they may shop," Wikenhauser continued. 
Annual economic impacts of the Milwaukee County Zoo include about $31 million in earnings and 1,418 jobs. According to Wikenhauser, the county puts in about $5 million in tax levy to the zoo each year. The zoo then doubles that money and returns it in the form of taxes. 
Wikenhauser also confirms a bright future for the Milwaukee County Zoo. Currently, the zoo has several construction and educational projects in the works. Improvements to the guest entrances and the expansion of the concessions and retail space are also expected within the next few years.