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Syracuse's Rosamond Gifford Zoo celebrates 100 years

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is beginning it’s second century in Syracuse.

When the zoo opened it’s doors 100 years ago, visitors were treated to some birds and a bear. Director Ted Fox says it’s important to take stock after a century.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
The pond at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse.

"One hundred years really means a lot to us," Fox said. "It really demonstrates the support of this community from what it was, with four acres and a few animals, to 700 animals and 43 acres now. We’re constantly adding new exhibits.”

And if you haven’t been to the zoo in a while, there have been several changes in recent years. For example, the pond in the courtyard is now much more open and accessible, as is the courtyard area toward the animal exhibits.

“We’ve changed some of the contact barn and opened up another walkway here," Fox explained. "You can get around the whole pond, instead of half of it being off exhibit, and you couldn’t see it from that direction. The openness, the cleanliness. We have a lot more people interested in horticulture now, so the botanical collection is growing.”

Fox says there have been five major green infrastructure projects since 2009.
"A wetland that recirculates and collects all the storm water within," he said. "Porous pavement out in the parking lot with bioswales, and rain gardens at the entrance to the zoo, which looks a lot more like it did back in the early 1900s with the sunken gardens and the urn that has plants in it now. It’s just beautiful out there.”

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
The outside of the zoo.

And the zoo has beefed up animal exhibits, including a new park for primates to frolic and a new Asian elephant preserve.

Fox says a 20-year master plan holds the keys to what happens at the zoo as it begins its second century.

"We’re kind of trying to tease that apart now, and trying to come up the first steps and the most practical to keep us up with other zoos in the country and so forth,” Fox said.

Onondaga County officials rededicated the zoo Tuesday, and in recognition of the milestone, admission to the zoo on Monday, July 14, will be $1.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.