(WMC-TV) – It is pricey to see the pandas and the rest of the animals at the Memphis Zoo.
It is so expensive that many Mid-Southerners say they do not even visit because ticket prices are too steep.
Now there is a pitch to lower the prices but the zoo says it needs every penny it can get. Zoo officials say what they don't raise during fundraisers, comes out of your pocket.
Tuesday night, Councilman Lee Harris blasted zoo prices and said people in District 7 cannot afford it. He called for a review of the city's contract with the zoo and said zoo price increases have had no council oversight in almost two decades.
"Just $15 for one parent and that parent might have three or four children. That's a little steep for their budget, maybe," said Princess Ray, who lives in Councilman Harris' district.
Adults pay $15 to get into the zoo, seniors pay $14, and children cost $10. Parking is an additional $5.
That adds up to a family of four paying $55 to get in the door. And once you get inside, you pay between $1 and $5 for rides and exhibits.
Season passes for an individual cost $45. A dual membership is $70 and a family pays $99.
Memphis Zoo President Chuck Brady says the zoo does all it can to make sure everyone can afford to go.
"Twenty-five percent of our total admission was either free or discounted," said Brady.
He says the prices are the bare minimum it takes to run a 70-acre zoo that ranks fifth in the nation.
"We have a living collection of almost 5,000 animals and they have a variety of diets and medical needs. Our utility bill alone is $1.2 million dollars," said Brady.