If you have ever felt our Asian elephant, Siri, softly curl her trunk around your hand, then you understand how wonderful our zoo is. (Our nationally accredited zoo is one of only a handful in the country where you can actually touch an elephant.)
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is a special place where animals, among them many endangered species, are nurtured and celebrated. When we reopened our doors in 1986 and welcomed the public to learn about and experience animals in humane and naturalistic settings we established an unwavering commitment that animal welfare and public education are the priorities for our zoo.
We invite you to become a part of an opportunity to dramatically move our zoo forward in our ability to deliver on this commitment. Our next stage of growth includes the following projects:
A new home for our nationally recognized Asian Elephant Breeding Program - among the top five in the nation.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has been synonymous with elephants since Siri, our much loved 43-year-old female, arrived here in 1972. An immediate favorite, Siri was the catalyst for the rebirth of our zoo in 1986.
To maximize our ability to contribute to the preservation of Asian elephants, we have designed a permanent home that can adequately achieve our mission. Without this new and improved facility we would be forced to relocate our breeding elephants. This would be a major blow to the field of elephant care and research and to the Central New York community, which has grown to love and support the elephants at our zoo.
The opening of Asian Elephant Preserve will mark the return of three elephants, including little Chuck, his mother Mali, and his grandmother Targa, who have been living temporarily at African Lion Safari in, Ontario, Canada. The family unit will be reunited with the rest of their Central New York family once our new state-of-the-art facility is complete.
Asian Elephant Preserve will far exceed the Association of Zoos and Aquariums requirements for elephant breeding, giving our zoo the distinction of having one of the top five Asian elephant programs in the United States.
Asian Elephant Preserve will include the following elements:
Pachyderm Pavilion | a state-of-the-art 27 foot high, 10,000+ square foot building for up to 12 elephants, with a wall of windows at one end to allow the public to freely view the elephants' day-to-day activities and care.
Four-Acre Grazing Yard | includes misters and sand wallows to help the elephants cool themselves, a giant scratch post, oversized shade structures, and rotating activities for the elephants' health and well being.
Elephant Overlook | visitors and families will have an opportunity to pause and spend time observing the elephants or watch an engaging elephant demonstration at a shaded overlook and seating area just off the boardwalk trail.
The current elephant exhibit, near the zoo's entrance, will be renovated and continue to be a destination for families and visitors to watch elephant demonstrations and to touch and view elephants up close, one-on-one.
For the first time in more than a decade, our beloved primates have come face-to-face with our guests outside, in the fresh air atop the hills of Burnet Park.
Visitors are able to listen to the primates' cacophony of calls, heard throughout the zoo, and watch as primates swing about the exhibit, bound from rock to rock, settle on the cool grass or nap in the heat of the sun. Primate Park is home to the following primates on a rotating basis:
Siamangs - lesser apes native to Southeast Asia
Ring-tailed and black and white ruffed lemurs - native to Madagascar
Patas monkeys - a new species to our zoo, native to equatorial Africa
Primate Park, a 4,000 square-foot naturalized outdoor exhibit, provides the following:
Enriching Environment | exhibit includes a waterfall and pool, heated rocks, swinging ropes and vines, rope hammock, shade structure and more.
Viewing Cave | visitors of all abilities can use the viewing cave, which has windows on three sides, naturalistic rock formations and information about cave dwelling creatures native to the primates' habitat.
Seamless Outdoor Viewing | a fine mesh encloses the outdoor primate exhibit allowing for seamless viewing and optimal interaction between visitors and primates.
The zoo's renovated "green" gathering space, Gatherings, is a welcoming place for visitors to rest and gather for picnics. It is also a beautiful venue to host special events and private parties - an important source of revenue that is reinvested in the zoo.
Gatherings is also a living exhibit of the zoo's commitment to conservation with numerous "green"building elements, including porous pavement, rain water collection barrels and native plant species.
The zoo's new projects are designed to meet our education and conservation mission. Some examples include:
Fun and Fascinating Elephant and Primate Demonstrations | will be a feature of Asian Elephant Preserve and Primate Park.
Interactive Educational Graphics | including an ecosystems jigsaw puzzle, a demonstration of how porous pavement works, and a life-size baby elephant sculpture, will educate visitors of all ages about animals and conservation in a fun and meaningful way.
Asian Elephant Biofact Station | an exhibit of elephant artifacts and information about this highly endangered species will be installed at Elephant Encounter, the zoo's existing elephant exhibit near the entrance of the zoo.
An Asian Elephant Educational Film | will be broadcast at the exhibit to educate the public about the species and demonstrate the exceptional animal care that is provided by the zoo's keepers.
Green Roof on the Pachyderm Pavilion | will be layered with soil and planted with drought resistant vegetation to dramatically reduce energy use, improve air quality, and lessen storm water runoff.
Rain Barrels and a Cistern | will collect rain water to be reused to water plantings and lessen storm water runoff.
Porous Pavement, Rain Gardens and a Tree Grove | will allow storm water to be absorbed back into the earth rather than running into storm drains and into our water supply, thereby reducing soil erosion and pollution.