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We tend to think of Zoos as theme-park attractions that bring in thousands of people and generate maybe millions of dollars a year in revenue. Heck, that’s probably true for many of the country’s best Zoos. The factual, business side of the matter is that many of our favorite Zoos are not only businesses, but ones that run on very small profit margins, or are run as non-profits.

Also, as is easily forgotten, Zoos work in ways far beyond what we see when a rogue chimp spits water out of his cage, or a giraffe cranes it’s neck to grab an illusive, luscious shred of food. The research and man-power that goes into the various conservation projects that many Zoos participate in cost untold amounts of money, which can be difficult for an organization that’s run as a non-profit to commonly have on-hand.

Recently, Waco’s Cameron Park Zoo launched a new photo-store, where a large portion of the proceeds will go directly to aiding the conservation and awareness projects that the Zoo itself holds very dear. Cameron Park Zoo is an AZA accredited (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) organization. AZA members spend $90 million dollars annually on 400 different conservation projects in over 100 different countries. Impressive, right? Kind of makes one feel guilty for wondering if the $8 souvenir soda cup is really worth it.

So, as you plan your weekend family excursions, or coordinate fun side-tips on your next vacation, keep in mind not only the Cameron Park Zoo, but be sure to return home and pick up a momento from your visit. It’ll mean a lot to you, but possibly even more to the animals you visited.

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