Detroit Zoo reports record attendance for 2012

Nearly 1.3 million patrons visited the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak last year

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ROYAL OAK, Mich. - If you went to the Detroit Zoo in 2012, you weren't alone.

Nearly 1.3 million patrons visited the zoo located in Royal Oak last year -- the seventh consecutive year attendance topped one million.

Zoo officials say Friday that the 1.27 million visitors passed through last year. The figures are up from 2011 when more than 1.21 million people visited.

Read: Zoo favorite passes away.

Attendance at the smaller Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit was over 37,000 last year.

"The strong attendance figures made a good year even better," said Gerry VanAcker, Detroit Zoological Society Chief Operating Officer.  "It's great to see the community continue to support and enjoy their zoos."

Attendance for the Belle Isle Nature Zoo was 37,746.

Zoo officials say the mild spring weather and a number of new babies animals, including baby river otters, Bactrian camel and red kangaroos all contributed to the growing number of visitors. 

Read: Monkey found at Toronto IKEA.

In addition to the babies born at the zoo orphaned grizzly bear cubs Mike, Thor and Boo, who rescued from Alaska, made their debut in the spring.

The zoo's newest crowd-pleaser is the Boardwalk at the Cotton Family Wetlands, a 2-acre Michigan ecosystem teeming with native fish, frogs, turtles and birds. 

The Boardwalk experience opened in July.

What's new at the zoo for 2013?

The zoo says a new animal habitat will give visitors up-close, underwater views of a pair of North American beavers.

Named for the benefactors whose support is making it all possible, the Jane and Frank Warchol Beaver Habitat is under construction and will open in late spring.

The new exhibit will be located across from the current river otter habitat.

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