Zoo in Top Tier of Economic Drivers
Zoo is in the region's top tier of economic drivers, supporting thousands of jobs and creating tourist spending

Study Finds Zoo Expected to Draw $882 Million to the Area by 2029


Published July 13, 2021

As the summer tourist season heats up, an independent study shows the Indianapolis Zoo has a significant impact on the local economy with spending by tourists from outside the Indianapolis area projected to total $649 million over the 15-year period between 2014-2029. The study, conducted on behalf of the Indianapolis Zoo, further shows that the Zoo creates an overall economic impact of $882 million, supports 6,211 jobs and generates $31 million in tax revenue. 

The Zoo, a leading tourist attraction in the region, welcomes more than one million annual visitors. Sixty-three percent of those visitors are from outside of Indianapolis with 20 percent of those coming from outside the state of Indiana. When those visitors come to the Zoo, the tourism dollars add up with spending on shopping, food and beverages, entertainment, lodging and transportation.

“The Indianapolis Zoo is a world-class attraction and a key tourism driver for Indy,” said Leonard Hoops, President and CEO of Visit Indy. “Pre-pandemic, our region drew nearly 30 million visitors a year; our award-winning Zoo was a major reason for those numbers and will be critical to helping us get back to those lofty levels and beyond, especially among leisure travelers. It’s also worth noting that over a 15-year period, the Zoo supports more than 6,200 jobs and many of those positions are part of our ever-growing tourism workforce.”

The primary drivers of the Zoo’s economic impact are its direct operations, spending in the region due to visitors from outside the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metropolitan statistical area (MSA), and its capital expenditures. With planned investments over the next nine years, the Zoo’s economic impact is projected to reach an average of $59.5 million a year. Located in White River State Park, the Zoo serves as the foundation for future growth on the near west side along the White River.

“One of the reasons the Indiana Economic Development Corporations (IEDC) is so excited about the state’s investment in revitalizing the near-west side/former GM Stamping Plant is we have such a great anchor institution in the Indianapolis Zoo right next door,” said Luke Bosso, IEDC Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff. “We look forward to seeing how the Zoo strategizes its future and grows its footprint while attracting even more visitors. As the study shows, the positive significant financial impact the Indianapolis Zoo has is not only important to the city of Indianapolis but the entire the state.”

The study, conducted on behalf of the Indianapolis Zoo in 2020 by Zoo Advisors, LLC, located in Havertown PA, looked at the impact of zoo operations, tourism revenues and capital improvement projects, actual and projected, for the period of 2014 to 2029. 

“The Indianapolis Zoo relocated to the White River State Park in 1988 to provide better access for visitors and to serve as an anchor for the development of the west side of Indianapolis,” said Dr. Rob Shumaker, Zoo President & CEO. “We are an important part of this community, and I am immensely proud of the role the Zoo plays in its cultural and economic vitality.”

For more detailed information on the study, view the one-sheet graphic report.

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