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New animal health center being built at Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Jessica Cain
Construction is underway on a new animal health center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse

Construction is underway to build a new, state-of-the-art animal health center at Syracuse’s Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo has launched a $1.1 million dollar capital campaign to raise money for new diagnostic and treatment equipment.

Onondaga County has allocated $7.5 million for the design, engineering, construction, and landscaping of the building.

“It’s going to be an amazing, amazing experience,” said Zoo Director Ted Fox. “Not only for the animals and their welfare which we’re all so excited about, but the visitors. Now, not only can you see into the surgery and treatment suites, but you’ll be able to see into the ICU unit, so if we’re hand raising a baby animal you’ll be able to experience and see that.”

Credit Jessica Cain / WRVO News

The new health center will be 10 times larger than the current health care clinic at the zoo. It plans to include the materials needed to treat and test for EEHV, the virus that killed two baby elephants at the zoo in December. The zoo has started a fund specifically in honor of Ajay and Batu.

The zoo hopes to expand that mission to help other animals, too.

“There are lots of other diseases that need space, lab space and technology to work with,” said Fox. “We’re hoping to do that.  It might be something for canids, all the wolf populations that are struggling with certain things, or felids, cats or whatever, so we’re trying to identify that now.”

The zoo will continue its partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, by bringing Cornell veterinarians to practice at the zoo and allowing residents, interns, and students to get hands-on experience.

The zoo also hopes to get its smallest visitors involved. The health center will have areas where kids can pretend to be veterinarians with plush toys, and large windows, where kids can watch animal care in action.

Local parents are excited for the center to open.

“I think that’s great,” said frequent zoo visitor Allison Philips. “I think to have something in our town would be amazing to help the animals, and we could get maybe more animals to the zoo.”

“That’s going to be awesome,” said parent Rachel Elliott. “I’m a first grade teacher as well, so I’m really excited that maybe someday I can take my first graders there.”

The new clinic is scheduled to open this September.

The zoo is encouraging anyone interested in sponsoring part of the new center to contact Friends of the Zoo Development Director Heidi Strong at (315) 435-8511 X8526

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.