The Ross Park Zoo closed its gates to the public on Friday March 13 out of an abundance of concern regarding the spread of COVID-19. The following week the Governor announced a mandatory shut down of all zoos across the state. Over the past three months we have been monitoring the situation and developing plans to safely reopen when permitted to do so. We are pleased to see the state has released reopening guidance for low-risk outdoor arts and entertainment facilities. Upon review of the guidance we are pleased to report the reopening plans we’ve developed meet or exceed all the mandatory practices outlined in the state guidance. This afternoon I will be submitting confirmation to the state that our plans meet the state guidance. Then we will wait for official notification from the Governor that the Southern Tier has been cleared to enter Phase 4. At that time we will be ready to reopen our gates to the public. We expect to reopen to members only beginning on Monday with our grand reopening taking place on Thursday July 2. As we open for our 145th season, we are excited to welcome the community back to the zoo and look forward to visitors meeting some new additions including Ruby and Jodi, our Pallas’s cats as well as the newest addition, our baby marmoset.
The past three months have not been without challenges but through it all the community support has been incredible, and we are extremely grateful. We recognize the current crisis is not over and we must be diligent in our reopening efforts to help prevent the spread of this virus. We would like to remind visitors that in accordance with the state guidance and for the safety of our staff, visitors, and animals under our care that masks will be required of all visitors over the age of 2. Traffic through the zoo will be one way and our indoor exhibits will be closed to the public. We will continue to evaluate our plan and as appropriate modify our operations. We commend the work of our state and local leaders on their response to this crisis and look forward to continuing to work with them to support the safe reopening of our zoo.
• Opening dates: June 29 through July 1 for members; July 2 open to the public
• Admission hours will be open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (zoo closes at 5:00) and capacity will be monitored.
• All guests over the age of two will be required to bring and wear a mask or face covering, unless doing so is contrary to their health/safety due to a medical condition. Likewise, all Ross Park Zoo staff will be wearing masks to protect you as well.
• If you are feeling ill, or living with someone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home. We look forward to seeing you another day.
• Maintain CDC suggested social distancing of at least 6’ between visitor groups. Signage and pavement decals have been installed to help remind our visitors.
• Additional hand sanitizer dispensers have been added throughout the zoo.
• The Leopard’s Spot Snack Shack will NOT be open until a later date. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase at the admission booth and Zoovenirs Gift Shop.
• The Zoovenirs Gift Shop will be open for limited capacity shopping. Guests may avoid walking through the gift shop when they exit by leaving through our old entry gate.
• For your safety, all visitors will follow a linear path through the zoo. The following areas and exhibits will not be visible until a later date: African Waters, New World Tropics, red-necked wallaby, Wolf Woods (wolves visible on upper path), Arctic fox.
• The Children’s Zoo presented by Valley Dental Pediatrics will be a no contact area until further notice.
• Admission will be offered at a reduced rate of $7.00 per person until all areas of the zoo are reopened.
• All Ross Park Zoo memberships expiring on or before May 31, 2021 have automatically been extended for 3 months.
With much appreciation,
We are so grateful for the community’s continued support throughout our 3 month closure.
As more and more businesses begin to open in our region and around the state, many of you have been asking, when will the zoo be able to reopen?
I am writing to share with you the work we have been doing to prepare for our reopening. While some industries are slowly reopening as parts of Phase 1 and 2, New York State has not approved the reopening of any zoos or other attractions. At the present time the state has indicated zoos will be included with other arts, educational and recreational industries as part of Phase 4 reopening. Based on the current timeline for each phase to open, we anticipate Phase 4 to begin at the end of June. In the meantime, we have been putting together our reopening plan and strategy based on current CDC, NYS, USDA and Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines and best practices. Our plan has been carefully crafted to protect not only our staff and visitors but also to ensure the safety and welfare of the animals entrusted to our care.
While we know you are ready to come back and we would love to see you, we are committed to doing our part to reduce the spread by adhering to the guidance set forth by New York State. This includes remaining closed until zoos are permitted to reopen with appropriate safety protocols provided by our public health leaders.
We are looking forward to having you meet our newest additions to the Ross Park Zoo family, Jodi and Ruby, a pair of Pallas’s cats who have taken up residence in a newly renovated habitat in our lower zoo thanks to Oasis Stone Scapes and the Broome Leadership Class of 2020. You will find a few more new additions as you meander the nearly one-mile path through the zoo including Jay and Janet, our Brahma chickens; Penny our northern tree shrew; and Albus, Severus, and Sirius our Flemish giant rabbits. While our indoor buildings such as African Waters and New World Tropics will be closed, you will still have the opportunity to say hello to our two-toed sloth, Patience, who has taken up temporary residence with our golden-headed lion tamarin, Valentine.
During this unprecedented time our staff have continued to provide our animals the highest level of care possible. Our work during this mandatory shutdown would not have been possible without the support of our community. We are grateful for the outpouring of support during these challenging times and look forward to working with the community to ensure a strong future for the Ross Park Zoo.
With much appreciation,
P.S. Please consider making a gift today to our Emergency Fund to help us cover costs for feeding and taking care of the animals at the zoo!
As a nation, this past week was filled with good news and tragic news. While we are hearing encouraging news that shows our shared efforts and sacrifice are flattening the curve, we cannot ignore the tragic loss of life which has taken place. Our thoughts go out to all those who have been impacted by this terrible disease. With the flattening of the curve, we are beginning to hear many people talk about opening things back up. We wish we could open our gates tomorrow, but we recognize the importance in staying the course to ensure the safety our of visitors, staff, volunteers, and animals. We continue to implement CDC recommendations and enhanced safety protocols for all staff on grounds and are happy to report all of our staff and animals remain healthy and safe.
We are doing our part to slow the spread and we are planning for our eventual re-opening. Over the past several weeks we have been putting additional safety measures into place. When we re-open we want our visitors, volunteers, and staff to feel safe and want to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals in our care. This includes the installation of additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the zoo, additional signage on social distancing and preventing the spread of the virus, and new bathroom signage on hand washing.
Planning for our 145th season will not be without its challenges. This month we saw the cancellation of our annual Eggstravaganza, the first cancellation in the history of the event. April 18th was our planned grand opening and our first Scout event of the season, but sadly our gates remain closed. While we may be closed, we are working to help keep you connected to our zoo. I encourage you to visit our website and follow us on social media for videos of some of your favorite animals here at the zoo, information about this season’s new arrivals, and activity ideas to keep your kids busy and learning.
We are fortunate to receive government support as a nonprofit organization but over 60% of our revenue comes from admissions, gift shop sales, concessions, and program fees like our Scout events and Zoo School. With our gates closed, these revenues are nonexistent while our costs remain.
Please consider making a gift to support the animals here at the zoo.
Your gift of $300 will feed our colony of African penguins for a month.
Your gift of $200 will supply our red pandas with bamboo for a month.
Your gift of $100 will feed our Amur leopard for a month.
Your support is more important than ever. I encourage you to visit our website and show your support by contributing to our emergency fund. Thank you for your continued support!
This week is going to be challenging for many of us as the impact of the virus hits its peak during a time of the year which is sacred for so many. Our thoughts go out to all those with loved ones affected by this virus and to all of those who have lost loved ones. We know it is going to get worse before it gets better but we know it WILL get better.
Among the troubling news emerging this week was the recent confirmation a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus. Our dedicated animal care staff have been in touch with colleagues around the country monitoring this situation. While we have implemented a number of safety protocols to limit the spread of the virus at the zoo we are implementing additional measures as recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Felid Taxon Advisory Group and the US Centers for Disease Control. This includes enhanced screening of all zoo employees prior to beginning their shift to monitor for symptoms, additional physical distancing with all animals at the zoo, and the use of face coverings for all employees when on grounds.
As we all work hard to maintain physical distancing to combat the spread of the disease, it is more important than ever that we remain socially connected. During the coming weeks we will be increasing our efforts to help connect you with the zoo and with each other. This includes hosting a digital egg hunt on Facebook this weekend in lieu of our annual Eggstravaganza event, and continuing to build out our digital content through zooU, offering fun and engaging ideas and activities to support learning with your children while they are home from school. I encourage you to visit our website and follow us on Facebook to stay connected.
The support we have received from the community during these challenging times has truly been an inspiration. We are here because you care and that has never been clearer. Thank you to everyone who has supported our emergency fund and a special thank you to those who have sent words of encouragement. Our staff are working tirelessly to maintain the health and wellbeing of the animals in our care. We all look forward to welcoming you all back to the zoo soon!
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected!
A year ago I joined the team here at the Ross Park Zoo. Just a month ago we were making plans for the arrival of new species, working on renovating existing habitats, and building new ones. We had just wrapped up a successful Winter Zoo School series with WSKG featuring the Wild Kratts, which served more than 100 area youth. We were open weekends allowing visitors to see their favorite animals year-round. We were working with our friends at the City of Binghamton, Community Foundation for South Central New York, and the Discovery Center on the development of a new master plan for Ross Park. Then the world got turned upside down and everything got put on pause.
While the world may be on pause, our animals continue to need our care and we continue to need your support. The response to our Emergency Fund has truly been humbling and we are extremely grateful for the support of the community. With the Governor’s announcement that the virus will likely apex in the next three weeks, we are preparing to remain closed through the end of April and have cancelled our Eggstravaganza event and have pushed back our Grand Opening. While we receive some government funding to support our operations, the majority of our funding comes from the support of our community through memberships, animal adoptions, admissions, concession sales, and programs like our ZooMobile. With these revenue streams on hold, your support is more important than ever before.
We recognize we are not alone in facing these challenges which is why we are encouraging our supporters to think about how they can support us while supporting local businesses. We invite you to support local businesses by purchasing gift cards from some of our local vendors. You can purchase gift
cards for Creature Comforts and Kovarik True Value Hardware online using the links below, or you can call Harpursville Farm and Garden at (607) 693-1461 and purchase a gift card over the phone.
Other options for purchasing gift cards are listed below:
During this crisis it is important for us to come together and support one another. Whether you contribute to our Emergency Fund, buy a gift card, or purchase from our Amazon Wish List, you can make a difference and help us continue to ensure the health and well-being of the more than 175 animals under our care at Binghamton’s Ross Park Zoo.
While we are closed don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@rossparkzoo) to keep up on everything happening at the zoo. Thank you to everyone who has supported us during this time, whether it be through a donation or a kind word, your support keeps us going strong!
I am writing to let you know what we are doing at the Ross Park Zoo to keep everyone safe and healthy during these challenging times as well as to let you know about the important work we continue to do on a daily basis. In light of calls for social distancing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Eggstravaganza is cancelled and we will remain closed until at least April 18, 2020. We have implemented additional cleaning and disinfecting protocols and are making important changes to our staffing patterns to ensure we are able to provide uninterrupted quality care to the animals entrusted in our care. We will be monitoring the situation and will adjust our plans as necessary to support our community’s response to this virus.
While these are challenging times, this won’t stop our important conservation work nor will it prevent us from continuing to provide high quality care to the animals in our care. Our new coyote yard is nearing completion and will allow us to provide a larger yard and a more complex habitat for Magnus and Riley, our current pair of coyotes. Work will soon be complete on a new habitat for our most recent arrivals, Jodi and Ruby, a pair of Pallas’s cats, and our staff are nearing completion of another space which will be home for a pair of animals expected to arrive later this year. We continue to expand our participation in Species Survival Plan programs with the recent addition of the Pallas’s cats and plans to add even more species this season to the 20 plus species we are supporting through these important conservation partnerships with other zoos around the country.
We have big plans for this coming season and while we are closed to the public we want to provide opportunities for you to stay connected and up to date on the happenings at the zoo including renovations to habitats and the arrival of new animals. I encourage you to visit rossparkzoo.org, visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on all the great things happening at the Ross Park Zoo.
There are great things happening, but I cannot deny the next several months will present challenges and we will need your help in order to continue the work we have started. I would ask you to consider making a contribution today to support this work by visiting our Emergency Fund. Your gift today will ensure we have the resources we need to continue to provide quality care to our animals including support for our training and enrichment programs which play a vital role in promoting animal welfare; and complete renovations to new animal habitats.
In the midst of this current situation I am reminded of the great things we can accomplish when we come together with a shared vision and a common purpose. We are in uncharted waters, but we are not alone. I have no doubt we will come out of this stronger as a community. I have seen first-hand how our community has stood up to challenges in the past and am comforted in the knowledge when things get tough, we come together.
Thank you for you continued support! I look forward to seeing you at the zoo this summer!