horizon blue cross blue shield by alvinbowen

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									FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Contact:        Teresa
Ruiz
December 11, 2006                                                                 973-621-4404
                                                                                  Anthony Puglisi
                                                                                  973-621-2542

            ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO ANNOUNCES
           NEW ATTENDANCE AND REVENUE RECORDS ARE SET AT
     ESSEX COUNTY TURTLE BACK ZOO FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR
                     $850,000 Project to Provide Facelift for Zoo Entrance
                           and Construct Red Panda Exhibit Starts
                Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey Makes $50,000
                      Contribution to Help Build New Bobcat Exhibit

West Orange, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced on Monday,
December 11th that new attendance and revenue records have been set at Essex County Turtle
Back Zoo for the second consecutive year, and presented plans for an $850,000 grant-funded
project to enhance the aesthetics of the zoo entrance and build a Red Panda Exhibit. In addition,
the County Executive will be joined by Robert A. Marino, Senior Vice President, Market
Business Units of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, to announce a $50,000
contribution to the Essex County Parks Foundation to help construct a new Bobcat Exhibit.

More than a quarter million visitors came to Turtle Back Zoo for the first time in its history. The
milestone marked the second consecutive year that a new all-time attendance record was
established and the third consecutive year that annual revenue increased.

“Making the comprehensive improvements to modernize the zoo, bringing in new and exciting
exhibits, and earning accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has transformed
Turtle Back Zoo into a regional attraction,” DiVincenzo said. “The attendance and revenue
numbers are evidence that our hard work is paying off,” he added.

Through Friday, December 8th, attendance for 2006 was 253,067, which breaks the attendance
record that was set last year with 211,449. Before that, the third highest attendance total was
211,044, that was set two decades years ago in 1986. Attendance dropped to an all-time low in
1995 when 119,995 people passed through the Zoo’s gates and was hovering around 165,000
people prior to DiVincenzo taking office in 2003.

                         Year                Attendance            Revenue
                         2002                  168,739             $627,450
                         2003                  169,505             $617,243
                         2004                  160,534             $657,956
                         2005                  211,449             $755,608
                         2006                  253,067             $955,479
                 (through December 8th)

As the attendance figures have risen over the last two years, so has the revenue. Through Friday,
December 8th, $955,479 in admission revenue has been collected, setting a new record for
revenue. This tops the $755,608 that was collected in 2005. Previously, an average between
$600,000 and $650,000 was collected on an annual basis.

“When my children were growing up we would bring them to Turtle Back Zoo and we’d have a
great day. But the zoo then does not compare to what the zoo is today,” Freeholder Vice President
Patricia Sebold said. “I want to thank the County Executive for doing such a great job to make
Turtle Back Zoo such a wonderful place,” she added.

“Turtle Back Zoo is an exciting place for children and adults to visit,” Zoo Director Dr. Jeremy
Goodman said. “With the leadership of County Executive DiVincenzo, we have upgraded our
exhibits, gained AZA accreditation and display rare and exotic animals that can only be seen here
at Turtle Back Zoo,” he added.

Enhancements at Turtle Back Zoo

During the press conference, DiVincenzo introduced plans to enhance the zoo entrance with
native landscaping, create an attractive interior plaza and build a new Red Panda Exhibit. The
total cost of the project is $850,000.

“When people come to Turtle Back Zoo, we want them to feel welcome and have an enjoyable
and memorable time. The work we are doing this winter will enhance the appearance of the Zoo
and make it more inviting to our visitors,” DiVincenzo said.

The new Entry Plaza will have ponds, statues and a fountain, as well as indigenous plants to New
Jersey. In order to enhance safety at the entrance, where large crowds may gather, a soft, safety
surface will be installed over the asphalt surface to cushion falls that eager young visitors may
have. The upgrades will be integrated with new landscaping, building upgrades and topiary that
were completed outside of the zoo earlier this year. In addition, a new, natural habitat Red Panda
Exhibit will be constructed near the current Bobcat and Cougar Exhibits. The Red Panda
resembles a red raccoon. Native to Japan, it lives in trees and is found in mountainous regions.

“Our new plaza will enhance the Zoo’s mission to provide an enriching recreation experience
through wildlife education and conservation. The new exhibits that we have been adding have
included the trees, grasses and flowers that can be found in our animals’ native habitats.
Incorporating native plants and landscaping at the entrance will set the tone for our visitors as
soon as they enter the zoo,” Goodman said.

The project is being funded with a Green Acres grant that the Zoologicial Society of New Jersey
received and matching funds from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund. The
improvements were designed by Dr. James Karl Fischer, an architect from Denville, and a
construction contract was awarded to Sita Construction, Inc.

“On behalf of the Docent Organization, I can’t say enough about this marvelous facility,” Docent
President Bob Desch said. “Turtle Back has such a tremendous reputation thanks to the vision and
insight of our County Executive,” he added.

“I’m very proud of Turtle Back Zoo. It’s just an incredible place when you think of all the
children who enjoy it,” said Connie Williams, Past President of the Zoological Society of New
Jersey.

Corporate Support from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
“Turtle Back Zoo is a tremendous place for families and people of all ages to learn about and gain
an appreciation for animals. Our corporate sponsors understand the Zoo is a valuable educational
facility, and their generous support is enabling us to provide our animals with modern, natural
habitat exhibits and to enhance the experience of our visitors,” DiVincenzo said. “I am proud to
announce our latest corporate partnership and welcome Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New
Jersey into the Essex County family. Their support will help us make Turtle Back Zoo a premiere
educational facility and first class attraction,” he added.

“We are delighted to be supporting the Essex County Parks Foundation in their effort to revitalize
Turtle Back Zoo,” Marino said. “Turtle Back Zoo is a great family friendly place that adds to the
quality of life for residents of Essex County where our company is headquartered,” he added.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is the latest New Jersey corporation to make a
contribution to the Parks Foundation to benefit Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. Horizon Blue
Cross Blue Shield’s contribution will be used to construct a new natural habitat Bobcat Exhibit,
which will be located near the Wolf Exhibit. (The current Bobcat Exhibit will be used for a new
Asian Leopard Exhibit.)

“The Essex County Parks Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the historic Essex County Parks
System. We thank Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and all of the corporate donors
who have made contributions in support of Turtle Back Zoo. Their sponsorship has helped to
make a tremendous and immediate impact at the Zoo,” Louis LaSalle, President of the Essex
County Parks Foundation, said.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, with headquarters in Newark, is New Jersey’s
largest health insurer, providing coverage to more than 3.2 million people. Horizon BCBSNJ’s
company web site is located at www.HorizonBlue.com. Horizon BCBSNJ is an independent
licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Revitalizing Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

The enhancements to the Zoo entrance are the latest project to upgrade and revitalize Essex
County Turtle Back Zoo.

In September 2006, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo received accreditation from the Association of
Zoos and Aquariums, and is just one of 214 facilities around the world that are accredited.
Earning accreditation is a clear indication that an institution is committed to the highest standards
in animal care, ethics, conservation and education.

Since taking office in 2003, DiVincenzo has spearheaded about $13 million in upgrades to Essex
County Turtle Back Zoo, including $7 million for the Reptile and Education Center, $1.2 million
for the open air dining pavilion and playground, $125,000 for the Otter Exhibit, $50,000 for the
Alligator Exhibit, $1.2 million for the 18,000-square-foot Black Bear Exhibit featuring Jelly and
Jam, $2 million for the 6,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Animal Hospital, $500,000 for the
3,360-square-foot Essex Farm Petting Zoo, $10,000 for the 15,000-square-foot South American
Animal Exhibit and $500,000 to upgrade fencing and infrastructure to meet AZA requirements.
All funding has been provided through Green Acres grants, existing capital improvement bonds,
or donations from the Zoological Society, Essex County Parks Foundation, corporations or
private foundations.
The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system in the
United States. It has been expanded to include about 6,000 acres of land. There are 17 parks, five
reservations, a zoo, ice skating rink, environmental center, roller skating rink, three public golf
courses, golf driving range, miniature golf course and two-off-leash dog facilities. Turtle Back
Zoo is located in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation and was opened to the public in
1963. There are 100 different species of native and exotic animals from five continents featured at
Turtle Back Zoo.

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