Catching a glimpse of the new tiger cub or any of the other exotic animals at the San Francisco Zoo could soon be a bit more expensive.
Admission fees are slated to increase $2, with prices for San Francisco residents poised to go from $12 to $14. Fees for nonresidents could be raised from $15 to $17, while rates for seniors are slated to go up from $7.50 to $9.50. And for children 4 to 14 years old, the cost could rise from $5.50 to $7.50.
On Thursday, the Recreation and Park Commission, which oversees the zoo, is expected to vote on the proposal, which would be the first admission hike since September 2008. The new fees would be in place by Sept. 1.
Under the new structure, admission costs would be in the middle of the pack compared with similar institutions. The Sacramento Zoo only costs $11.25 to enter, but the San Diego Zoo charges $44 for adults. Likewise, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park has a $29.95 admission fee.
Visitors at the zoo on Monday expressed differing views on the proposed fee increase.
Angela Browne of Montara, who was at the zoo with her two children, said the more expensive admission costs wouldn’t deter her family from coming.
“We will always come out and support the zoo,” Browne said.
However, Margi Young said the new fee increase would be a disaster for San Francisco families.
“If a family has two or three children, this really starts to become unaffordable,” said Young, a San Francisco resident who was at the zoo with her son. “Personally, I think the zoo should be free.”
Revenue from the fee increases would go toward animal wellness initiatives, temporary exhibits and the overall appearance of the zoo, said Abbie Tuller, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Zoological Society.
“Based on competitive price data, the San Francisco Zoo will continue to be a terrific value both as a Bay Area family destination and for tourists who want to visit an accredited zoo,” said Fuller, who noted that local residents will still get 12 days of free visits a year.
The zoo is once again thriving after nearly being shut down following the fatal tiger mauling of a 17-year-old boy on Christmas Day 2007.
It invested heavily in infrastructure upgrades, but lost $2 million the following year because of low attendance levels and saw its general manager, Manuel Mollinedo, resign under duress.
However, attendance peaked at more than 800,000 visitors last year, finally reaching pre-accident levels. The zoo recently sparked renewed interest last month, when it unveiled a Sumatran tiger cub at the refurbished tiger grotto.
As part of a public-private partnership approved in 1993, the San Francisco Zoological Society manages the zoo while the Rec and Park Commission provides oversight of operations. A joint committee made up of members from both organizations recommended the admission increase last month.
S.F. Examiner Photo Editor Mike Koozmin contributed to this report.