- Associated Press - Saturday, July 30, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Even in the sweltering heat, the Phoenix Zoo is seeing a rise in attendance, and officials are crediting it all to the Pokemon Go phenomenon.

The zoo is reporting a sharp increase in visitors without kids and membership which officials attribute to the 48 Pokestops - areas where players can pick up supplies like Pokeballs - inside the campus, The Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/2aAhfq3 ).

“It’s a bit of a marketing phenomenon, and gave small and local businesses the opportunity to take as much advantage of it as they wanted,” said Linda Hardwick, the zoo’s director of communications.

The number of people buying zoo memberships has more than doubled, increasing 137 percent in a week compared with a similar time last year.

Compared to a similar week last July, 54 percent more non-members visited the zoo last week, pushing attendance from under 6,000 people in a week last year to almost 8,000 this year.



Both this and last Saturday the zoo hosted a “Lure-A-Thon” by using in-game treats to bring more Pokemon - and players - to the zoo. Zoo officials placed in-game “lures” to attract Pokemon to the area. They also encouraged visitors to ride the zoo’s safari train to catch creatures without walking around in the heat.

The rarest Pokemon to be captured at the zoo so far are Venosaur, Kadabra, Vulpix, Sandslash and Omanyte.

Zoo staff said they are excited Pokemon Go has attracted young people without children to the zoo. They said the digital monsters have helped more people see real-life creatures as well.

“We’re hoping that while they were here they were engaged with our animals and experiences so they will want to come back to see what else the zoo will have to offer,” Hardwick said, “but also to have a safe place to play this game.”

Pokemon players are also being encouraged to attend the Zoo’s “Prowl and Play” event on Aug. 6.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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