The price to see the 230 species of native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is about to go up.
The entrance fee will increase by as much as $5, although Arizona residents will see a more modest $1 increase next year.
Under the proposal, the current $14.50 will increase to $19.50 for out-of-state residents, $17.50 for out-of-state seniors, $14.50 for Arizona residents and $6 for children under the age of 12.
Craig Ivanyi, the executive director of the museum, said the fee increase was unavoidable.
“We wish we didn’t need to raise our gate fees, but rising costs, coupled with a greater depth and breadth of programs and exhibits, requires we do so,” Ivanyi said. “The fact is we simply haven’t kept pace with the increased cost of providing the rich experience the museum is known for, along with what it takes to support several new exhibits and programs that we have added.”
Since 2000, the Desert Museum has added a number of new programs including Raptor Free Flight, Live and (sort of) on the Loose, exhibits such as Life on the Rocks and the Warden Aquarium as well as new facilities like the Warden Oasis Theater and the Baldwin Education Building & Library
At the same time, entrance fees have not increased since 2010, county records show.
The increased fees, which still need the approval of County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, are expected to generate more than $500,000 in new revenue.
Currently, gate and membership revenue only cover about 52 percent of the museum’s annual operating budget, Ivanyi said.
Huckelberry said in a memo to the Pima County Board of Supervisors he expects to approve the proposal next week.
The museum leases the 21-acre site from Pima County.