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Victoria has another new resident. The Texas Zoo recently hired a curator for the zoo. Ms. Blomberg introduced him to the folks at the VEDC partnership meeting this morning. The introduction was short and sweet and her comment caught my attention and excited validation.

Somebody listened to me. Well, probably not so much, rather they had a similar thought. The Texas Zoo will fail miserably if it tries to compete with the big dogs in our suburbs. Those larger zoos have the funding to practically pay visitors to attend, have the giraffes, fabricated features, and huge promotionals. How to we compete?

It looks like the people at The Texas Zoo have started on a good foot. The new curator is from Florida and an area where competition is stiff with huge amusement parks and larger zoos. He was the curator at another zoo in a similar market to Victoria. He succeeded, as it was introduced, by finding a niche. He found something that was a strength. He took what was perceived as a weakness, namely smallness, and thought inside the box by executing a strategy that was different than the rest of the guys at the big boxes.

A zooful example of a niche may include giraffes. Sure all large zoos have giraffes. There is nothing special between the giraffe at the San Antonio Zoo or the zoo in Dallas. However, having the tallest giraffe separates you from the pack. Every zoo has a hippo. Not every zoo specializes in miniature hippos. Every zoo has aquariums. Not every zoo puts on “Build an aquarium workshop.” Think about this strategy for a minute. A visitor brings their family to build an aquarium. Ok, decorate an aquarium and learn about different things about fish. A week later, the zoo offers free fish for those aquariums.

Trinidad and Tobago is similar to a niche. Every island in the Caribbean offers the American island vacation. Trinidad offers eco-tourism. It took a strength, in their case hummingbirds, and has become one of the most well-known hummingbird sightseeing places in the world. A bird enthusiast will pay big bucks for a glimpse of a rare bird whereas the average vacationer will always seek the cheapest vacation spot when everyone offers the same experience.

I look forward to hear about what the new curator has up his sleeve to make The Texas Zoo unique and different. And by the way, welcome to Victoria.