$37 million funding has been approved for phase 1 of Rochester’s Seneca Park Zoo‘s expansion project. The ambitious project will help preserve the Zoo’s accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“Not having that means the difference between being a world-class zoo and being a roadside attraction,” said Larry Staub, Monroe County’s Director of Parks.
The Zoo’s 10-year master plan has been awarded $13.5 million from the county’s overall 2017 Capital Budget, which will enable the commencement of Phase 1.
A new exhibit, A Step Into Africa, will be built north of the existing elephant barn, with giraffes, zebras, ostrich and white rhinos in multi-species exhibits, allowing visitors to get closer to the animals.
you haven’t lived until you’ve been slimed by a giraffe tongue
“We will have both indoor and outdoor feeding stations in the giraffe exhibit, giraffes are so accommodating to humans. When you’re holding a piece of romaine lettuce in your hand, they come right up to you and take it from your hand with their big black tongues … you haven’t lived until you’ve been slimed by a giraffe tongue,” says Staub.
“A new people mover tram will also be included in the phase,” adds Staub, as “people said the zoo is too long and linear and when they get to the end they have to walk all the way back, and that can be tough, especially with a tired kid.”
The Zoo, which regularly attracts 300,000 visitors annually, set out the 10-year Master Plan in 2015. It is broken down into two phases.
Phase 1, which includes the Africa exhibit, rebuilding the main zoo and entrance buildings, a new concessions building, and a Tropical Complex, is expected to cost a total $57 million.
Set to be completed by 2020, an expected $37 million will be funded by the Monroe County for the first phase, with the Seneca Park Zoo itself contributing $20 million.
Phase 2, which is currently unfunded, would begin shortly afterwards, with aims to be completed by 2026. It is expected to include expanding exhibits, renovating the Eco-Center, adding a ropes course, amphitheater and an active play area.
Image by WDM Architects.