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Aquatic Garden, Asian Rainforest help propel record attendance at Botanical Gardens

People take in the beauty at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Thursday, January 4, 2018. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

The cultural attraction in South Park had more paid admissions (82,750) and total attendance (more than 120,000)  in 2017 than any other year. Admissions jumped 31 percent from the year before.

"We're becoming more and more of a tourist attraction," said David Swarts, president and chief executive officer.

"The numbers we are talking about are also symbolic of the tremendous resurgence and renaissance we are experiencing through the City of Buffalo, and perhaps throughout Western New York," he said.

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The unveilings of the Aquatic Garden and Asian Rainforest in two reopened areas at the gardens is credited with spurring the attendance increase.

"When we opened to the public, 8,200 people came through here that first weekend," Swarts said.

The Botanical Gardens also diversified its programs to attract more people.