After a year like no other that saw it being closed for months, the National Zoo said it is expecting a bumper crowd during the upcoming summer holiday period.
Visitor numbers at the zoo have increased in recent times, along with a surge in people signing up to become zoo members.
The increase in attendance figures comes as the zoo was recently named among the top 10 per cent of tourist attractions in the world at the Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice Awards.
With international borders still closed and holidaymakers looking for places closer to home to visit, the zoo's wildlife and grounds manager Bec Scott said a spike in visitor numbers was expected during the upcoming holidays.
Visitor numbers to the zoo declined during the peak summer period earlier in the year due to choking bushfire smoke.
That was before the zoo was forced to close at the height of coronavirus in March, with the ACT government even considering buying a stake in the National Zoo to help keep it afloat.
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"With smoke at the beginning of the year and people locked away, we're certainly seeing members getting back out to the zoo," Ms Scott said. The zoo reopened to the public in late May.
Ms Scott said people were returning to the zoo in droves, among them Canberrans keen to explore their own backyards. "We're certainly hopeful of maintaining visitor numbers here, but we will need tourists to maintain their social distancing."
Despite the challenges of the previous year, the zoo's animals continue to be a large drawcard for tourists. Among them are the zoo's two white lions, Jake and Mischka, who celebrated their 13th birthday on Friday.
The twins marked their milestone event with gift-wrapped presents containing meaty treats and balls to play with.
However, just like all cats, both were content to just play with the box their presents came in.
Ms Scott said while the lions had entered their teenage years, in terms of a lion's life span, Jake and Mischka are firmly in middle age.
"Mid-to-late teens is a normal lifespan for a lion, but at the zoo, lots of lions tend to live beyond their mid 20s," Ms Scott said.
"White lions are very different to look at, and are often mistaken for an albino lion but they have leucism, which is caused by a recessive gene which makes them more of a blonde lion."
Jake and Mischka arrived at the National Zoo from South Africa in 2008 as cubs from the same litter just after their first birthday.
White lions are rare, with only a handful of zoos in the country having the species.