FORT WORTH — Cool temperatures, 25 mph winds and a record-breaking Tuesday may have all slowed down Fort Worth Zoo attendance on half-price Wednesday during spring break, typically the busiest day of the year.Traffic never backed up at the Zoo’s entrance, said one of a dozen off-duty Fort Worth police officers hired to direct traffic. But the zoo still had to use three of its four overflow parking lots by 2 p.m. Zoo spokeswoman Alexis Wilson said beautiful weather on Tuesday, including an 86-degree high, drew more than 20,000 guests. Crowds of 10,000 to 12,000 are more typical during regular spring break days, Wilson said, adding that 12,000 guests visited on Monday.Admission is half price every Wednesday of the year, Wilson said. But Wednesday during spring break usually more than doubles the customer count. Last year’s spring break Wednesday total was about 26,370, she said.The official total of Wednesday visitors won’t be available until Thursday, she said, but was at least 15,000.The Zoo’s administration expected about that many this year, too, because of the day’s theme: “It’s Spring Break, Baby!”The babies include: a pair of elephant babies named Bowie and Belle; two baby mountain lions named Sheldon and Leonard; a jaguar cub named Sasha; a greater one-horned rhino named Asha; four yet unnamed swan cygnets; equally anonymous golden-headed lion tamarins; and dozens of other babies from horseshoe crabs to jellyfish.More than 7,000 creatures live at the zoo, in all.“We’ve started to see a change in the trend of who’s using the half-price admission,” Wilson said. “We’re determined to ensure access no matter a person’s socioeconomic status.”)Nathan Johnson of Fort Worth said he brought his daughter, Alden, to the zoo several months ago but returned Wednesday with other relatives because of the lowered admission.“It was the half price that brought my dad out, because he paid for the tickets,” Johnson said.Laura and Joe Corn of College Station found the half-price admission and the theme an ideal way to start their vacation with their kids, Austin, Reagan and Mason.“We’re all having lots of fun,” Laura Corn said. “The crowds have been good and even though it’s a little bit windy and cold it’s a beautiful day.”“It’s turning out much better than what we thought,” Joe Corn said.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620 Twitter: @fwstevans