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Louisville Zoo Beer Sales Up But Fall Short of Projections

J. Tyler Franklin

The Louisville Zoo has sold 63 percent more beers this year than in 2014, the first year in which the city-owned attraction sold the alcoholic beverages.

But despite projections for as much as $120,000 in gross beer sales, the zoo has sold just about $75,000, said Assistant Director Stephanie Moore. About $60,000 worth of beer was sold between May 2014 — when the zoo began selling beer — and the end of that year.

Beers are sold through vendor Service Systems Associates; this year, the Louisville Zoo will get about $15,000 in commission from the sales.

Moore said she expects the zoo to sell more as awareness grows. She noted that the zoo has not advertised that it has begun offering beers to patrons.

"As people kind of find out about it, they'll look for it when they're here then," Moore said.

She said the zoo also expects beer sales to increase along with attendance, brought in by the opening of new attractions. Beer sales were up October, when the zoo hosts its annual late-evening Halloween party, she said.

The zoo sells both mass-produced beers and craft brews. The latter made up about 45 percent of sales. The sales numbers provided by the zoo are through October; Moore said they might have sold slightly more once the final two months of 2015 are tallied. Still, November and December are slow months for attendance.

The zoo has had no incidents or issues related to beer sales since it began offering the alcoholic beverages last year, said spokeswoman Kyle Shepherd.

The introduction of beer is part of the zoo's ongoing efforts to generated more revenue. In recent years, the zoo has also added a parking fee. Next year, the zoo will begin offering paid camel rides.

The zoo's budget is just shy of $15 million. Louisville Metro government contributed $4.4 million in the current fiscal year, Shepherd said.

Featured image by J. Tyler Franklin/WFPL News.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.