Chicago families get in touch with animal instincts after tragedy

CHICAGO: Anxious to give people a place of respite from the recent

tragedy in New York, Chicago's Brookfield Zoo decided to waive all

admission fees on Sunday, September 16.

The zoo distributed a release on its decision using PR Newswire, called

local media contacts, and put word of its decision on its website the

same day. Local media picked up on the news Saturday.

On Sunday, more than 30,000 people showed up at the zoo, twice the

normal Sunday attendance. To accommodate the crowds, the zoo stayed open

one hour past its normal 6pm closing time.

"It was important for us to encourage people to come," said Lee Haines,

assistant director of marketing and PR. "We wanted to make sure people

had some place for solace - some place to reconnect with their


The zoo normally charges $7 for adults and $3.50 for

children and seniors, so the free admission offer likely cost the zoo

approximately $150,000.

Zoo director George Rabb made the decision to offer free admission

Friday, so Haines and his staff had only a few hours to get the message

to Chicagoans.

On Monday, the Chicago Tribune ran a Metro section page-one story on the

Sunday turnout. The Brookfield zoo, in a Chicago suburb, is the largest

zoo in the area.

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