Formed in 1966, the Southern Tier Zoological Society has overseen the operation and maintenance of the Ross Park Zoo since 1977. Become a member and enjoy a handful of benefits including free admission for one year!
Binghamton’s Ross Park Zoo is dedicated to promoting awareness and stewardship of our natural world, in our community and globally, through education, conservation, and community engagement.
Binghamton’s Ross Park Zoo is a regional leader in wildlife conservation, an inclusive educational resource for all residents, and a recreational focal point for our community and our visitors.
The Ross Park Zoo sits tucked into the northern face of Binghamton’s South Mountain. The zoo officially opened in 1875, and it is the fifth oldest zoological institution in the country behind such communities as Philadelphia, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Buffalo.
A wealthy businessman, Erastus Ross, who stipulated that the land was to be used as a park for all the community to enjoy, donated the 90-acre plot to the city of Binghamton. The first electric-run trolleys in Binghamton were in 1887, and a line running up Park Avenue by way of the old Washington Bridge created easy access to the park. A roller coaster, swings, and a variety of other amusements helped Ross Park to flourish into a busy and popular recreational area. The stone pillars were erected in 1896 and welcomed visitors as they arrived by carriage or trolley. In 1919 Ross Park saw the arrival of a bear exhibit, and the park’s carousel.
The increased use of the automobile allowed people to travel out of the Binghamton area for recreation, decreasing the number of visitors to the parks. The loss of this revenue caused the zoo to slowly degenerate. Two World Wars and the Great Depression helped to continue the decline of the Ross Park Zoo until the USDA (Dept. of Agriculture) threatened the zoo with closure.
In 1966, concerned community residents formed the Southern Tier Zoological Society, and for the first time in 1972, an appropriation for zoo maintenance appeared in the City of Binghamton’s budget. The society was granted a contract by the City to oversee the operation and maintenance of the zoo in 1977, and has assumed additional responsibilities ever since. The zoo was first accredited in 1987, and has received accreditation in 1992, 1997, and 2009 by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Under the Southern Tier Zoological Society, Ross Park has undergone tremendous changes. What was once asphalt, concrete, and steel bars is now winding wooded paths with naturalistic exhibits housing over 100 different species. A strong emphasis on conservation education has created an outreach program that serves over 20,000 people in New York and Pennsylvania.
Board of Directors
Jeffrey A. Jaketic (President)
Scott Fiedler (Vice President)
Lisa Donovan (Secretary)
Andrea Shapley (Treasurer)
Apply to be a board member of the Southern Tier Zoological Society.