Even a fundraiser that raked in over a million dollars couldn’t block the approval of a $2 increase for tickets to the San Francisco Zoo this Thursday.

At the meeting Thursday, Zoo executive director Tanya Peterson told the Recreation and Park Commission that the price hike was needed because of increasing operating costs and costs of living in San Francisco.

Admission is currently $12 for adult city residents and $15 for non-residents, with discounted tickets for seniors and children.

The $2 increases, which were unanimously approved by the commission, will take effect for all of those categories, while admission will remain free for children 3 years old and younger and for San Francisco Unified School District groups of students.

Peterson said the cost of entering the zoo is still cheap compared to the $29.95 needed to enter the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, and still costs less than Oakland’s zoo, which is smaller.

The last price hike came in 2008 and the zoo saw a slight drop in attendance but “more than made up for it in revenue gains,” Peterson said.

Commission president Mark Buell said the increase was an example of the zoo “trying to be efficient but yet be competitive.”

This is the second time in recent weeks that Buell has been instrumental in bringing funds to the SF Zoo: Buell was also the official auctioneer at the May 11 ZooFest fundraising event, which raised $1.35 million.

At the event, tickets to which began at $500, rights to name the zoo’s newest acquisition, a Komodo Dragon, and a Sumatran tiger cub born last month at the San Francisco Zoo went to the highest bidder.

Emeritus zoo trustee Barry Lipman paid $25,000 to name the dragon, according to the Chron.

Literary agent Jillian Manus shelled out $47,000 to name the cub “Jillian.”

In a Facebook message sent to the Appeal (presumably in response to our earlier report on her purchase), Atherton resident Manus said “My children named the Baby Tiger Jillian so one day they could take their kids to see ‘Grandma’s Tiger.'”

Manus’ grandchildren, and everyone else, will pay the new, higher admission prices starting September 1 of this year.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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