Erie Zoo News & Updates

Erie Zoo Economic Impact Study

Posted on June 21st, 2022 at 12:29 PM


CONTACT: Scott Mitchell


 Study Finds Erie Zoo Generated $100 Million in Economic Impact Over Five Years


Study shows long-term public investment pales in comparison to similar-sized zoos


Erie, PA (June 21, 2022) – A nationally recognized firm headquartered in Erie, Pennsylvania published a pro-bono economic impact analysis today that found the Erie Zoo has generated more than $100 million in economic impact over the past five years. The study further concluded that the economic activity generates $21.2 million annually in Pennsylvania and that more than $17.8 million of those funds stays in Erie County alone.

“This study brings to life the story of a beloved zoo that is making memories for families and contributing to the economy in a big way, despite being under-resourced for years,” said Jeff Beach, Chairperson, Erie Zoological Society. “We have been faced with an enormous task to regain our AZA accreditation while investing in a long-term modernization of this tremendous community asset – and this report shows our efforts are worthy of public and private investment.”

Across Erie County, the Erie Zoo’s operations and visitors support more than 250 jobs annually.  Regional assets are a driving force in wage-sustaining jobs and more than 300,000 visitors to the mainstay spend $12.7 million annually on a direct and indirect basis. The study was conducted by Parker Philips, Inc., a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in economic impact analysis.

Currently, the Erie Zoo maintains its operations through visitor revenue and spending, which suffered greatly during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Erie Zoo is considered a Lead Asset in the community through the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority (ECGRA) and draws the highest percentage of ECGRA dollars due to it being the region's largest attraction.

“A visitor-based revenue stream is not feasible as the Zoo strives to pursue its conservation efforts and modernize its facility,” said Scott Mitchell, Development Director, Erie Zoo. “When we saw the market analysis of public support for similarly-sized zoos in black and white we were blown away – the Erie Zoo has been surviving on love and loyalty and we’re going to need new revenue to get to the next level.”

“Economic impact analysis is an objective way to measure the significance of the Erie Zoo in the statewide economy,” said Nichole Parker, President, Parker Philips. “It is a reliable tool that policymakers can use to inform their decisions and provide empirical context that shows relative value.

“The Erie Zoo is a sustainable economic driver that makes a demonstrable impact on not only Erie County but the entire commonwealth. Our market analysis shows public support for the Erie Zoo is low compared to its peers, which could impact its long-term sustainability as it relates to accelerated accreditation standards and what the public expects from a modern zoo experience.

Among the findings in the study:

  • The $21.2 million total economic impact of the Erie Zoo includes $8.5 million in operational impact and $12.7 million in visitor impact with $2.8 million in induced spending.
  • The operations of the system supported or sustained a total of 250 jobs.
  • Through its local spending and the jobs it supported or sustained, the Erie Zoo generates $1.3 million in state and local taxes.

The study measured the economic contribution of this industry utilizing IMPLAN to estimate the economic contribution of the Erie Zoo. The analysis is based on financial expenditures by the Erie Zoo and actual spending habits of zoo visitors collected through surveys.

Read the full Economic Impact Report