By Cara Sulieman
THE credit crunch has helped the nation’s favourite animal park celebrate a bumper Easter weekend as stay at home Scots flocked to see Edinburgh Zoo’s latest attractions.
The bank holiday saw an amazing 26,015 people walk through the doors at the zoo – which is celebrating its centenary year – causing queues of traffic from drivers trying to find parking spaces outside.
It was almost double the number of visitors during Easter 2008, when just 13,589 sightseers passed through the turnstiles.
Easter Monday actually came close to breaking their record with 8290 visitors taking advantage of the good weather to visit the famous animal park.
Zoo bosses put the high visitor numbers down to a combination of the credit crunch, good weather and new additions to the baboon population drawing visitors through the door.
A spokeswoman said: “We’ve had gelada baby baboons born recently, which are proving to be very popular.
“I think a lot of people are staying at home for Easter this year.
“We’re finding a lot of people coming from Edinburgh and the Lothians.”
She added that events linked to the Science Festival also helped attract people with a number of talks and hands-on events taking place over the weekend.
And it wasn’t the only capital attraction to benefit from the sunshine.
The Royal Botanic Garden saw 15,000 visitors between Good Friday and Easter Monday, considerably more than the usual 3,000.
And Edinburgh Castle’s numbers jumped up to between 5,000 and 7,000 – above the average for this time of year.
It comes as British Airways announced that Edinburgh was one of the most popular short-haul destinations for the long weekend.
A grand total of 110,500 people travelled with the airline on Thursday.
But the lovely weather isn’t likely to keep up for the rest of the week, with colder temperatures forecast.
“Quite a bit cooler”
Nigel Bolton, national forecaster for the Met Office said: “Edinburgh is one of the places which got lucky with sunshine over the weekend.
“Temperatures were up to 16 degrees Celsius yesterday, but it will probably get quite a bit cooler over the next few days.”