The zoo actively collaborates with Friends of the Zoo to provide its guests “the best day ever,” ensuring experiences that excite, memories that endure, and knowledge that inspires worldwide conservation.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park has had its own wild adventure of growth and improvements over the last century. Once just a small 4-acre facility, the zoo is now home to approximately 700 animals on 43 acres. Continuous improvements to the zoo's infrastructure and animal exhibits ensure that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo will remain a treasured attraction in Central New York.
|1914||Zoo opens as a red barn on a four-acre site in Burnet Park, managed by the City of Syracuse Parks & Recreation Department.|
|1916||Capital construction begins with the building of stone exhibits for bears and a waterfowl pond.|
|1930s||Zoo is enlarged to eight acres and a main building is built at a cost of $50,000.|
|1955||Children's Zoo and Monkey Island are constructed.|
|1960s-1970s||Zoo falls into a state of disrepair due to shrinking city tax base and subsequent decrease in financial support.|
|1970||Friends of the Burnet Park Zoo is founded.|
|1974||Two teens break into the zoo, killing and injuring approximately 40 animals, fueling public debate over the future of the zoo.|
|1978||City of Syracuse receives funding to complete a project to enlarge the zoo to 18 acres and construct a new perimeter fence, a boardwalk, the western plains and other outdoor exhibits.|
|1979||Onondaga County takes over the management of the Burnet Park Zoo; county staff prepares a 40-page report on plans to renovate the zoo.|
|1981||A master plan for zoo renovation is sent to and approved by the Onondaga County legislature. Included in the $10 million plan is approval for complete shut down of the "old" Burnet Park Zoo.|
|1982||The "old" Burnet Park Zoo shuts down in October.|
|1983||Capital project begins in Dcember with a "building breaking" by then County Executive, John Mulroy. The zoo embarks on a $13.1 million project, $2.5 million of which is raised by Friends of the Burnet Park Zoo.|
|1986||The "new" Burnet Park Zoo opens its doors to the public on August 2.|
|1987||The Burnet Park Zoo receives its initial accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).|
|1993||Zoo's mission statement is revised; updated communication and collection plans begin.
|1997||Burnet Park Zoo is re-accredited by AZA.
|1998||Capital campaign is initiated to fund a new conservation/education center, tiger, penguin and rainforest exhibits.
U.S.S. Antiquities is opened, representing completion of the first phase of the capital campaign.
|1999||Burnet Park Zoo receives $2 million endowment from the Gifford Foundation and becomes the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park.
The new Amur tiger exhibit is opened as Carrol's Tiger Trail.
|2000||The Niagara Mohawk Rainforest Exhibit opens.
Groundbreaking takes place for the construction of the Carrier Conservation Education Center.
|2001||Three lion cubs from the Baton Rouge Zoo go on exhibit.
The Zoo to You education outreach program is launched.
|2003||Penguin project approved and construction contracts are drawn up.
|2004||Construction begins on the Humboldt penguin exhibit.
The zoo celebrates its 90th anniversary.
|2005||Penguin Coast opens on June 29 with 18 Humboldt penguins.
Spectacled bear exhibit opens.
|2006||The leadership role of the zoo splits into two; Chuck Doyle is promoted to zoo director and Janet Agostini is hired as president of Friends of the Zoo.
Penguin chicks hatch for the first time; there are four chicks.
|2007||Ocelot exhibit opens in June.
Zoo celebrates Siri the elephant's 40th birthday. More than 9,000 people visit in three days to honor the matriarch of the Asian elephant herd. Celebration receives national media attention.
Zoo becomes one of 11 zoos in North America to house a fossa, an endangered carnivore from Madagascar.
|2008||The zoo is re-accredited by AZA.
"Year of the Frog" is celebrated to increase awareness of frog/amphibian conservation.
Sand cat exhibit opens.
Zoo celebrates birth of elephant, Little Chuck, to Mali, one of the zoo's elephants on loan to the African Lion Safari in Canada.
Success of penguin exhibit continues with the hatching of three chicks.
|2009||Zoo celebrates the hatching of Zephyr, a white-crested laughing thrush. The new chick is one of just three hatched in captivity worldwide over the past year and receives national media coverage.
First penguin hatches on main exhibit at Penguin Coast. Ashley Redhead wins first ever penguin chick naming contest and the female chick is named Marisol, which means "sea and sun" when loosely translated to English.
|2010||Nine Humboldt penguins hatch--more than in any other year.
Primate Park opens on July 15, featuring the siamangs. It's the first time in a decade that primates have been outdoors at the zoo.
The zoo welcomes a group of five patas monkeys.
For the first time in 16 years, a baby sloth is born. The 43rd to be born at the zoo, she is named Ruth.
|2011||A female patas monkey is born on January 7. She is named DJ after long-time zoo employee, Doris Johnson. Another baby is born on August 23 and is named Kibibi via a community naming contest.
Tiger triplets, Yuri, Kuza and Misha, are born on May 7 to parents, Tatiana and Toma.
Henry "Ted" Fox is named zoo director after Charles "Chuck" Doyle retires.
Asian Elephant Preserve opens. Three elephants return from Canada, increasing the herd size to seven.
Six penguin chicks hatch, beginning in January, which is earlier than ever before.
In a year of unprecedented births, the zoo breaks several attendance records. Total visitation is 372,139—the highest total attendance in more than 15 years and an 8.3 percent increase over 2011. February, March, May and August return monthly totals not seen in more than a decade.
Born February 17, Magdelena is the first Humboldt penguin hatchling of the year and the 36th chick to hatch at the zoo.
Fennec fox kit, Moose, is born March 23. He is the fifth kit born to Rhiona and Copper.
Patas monkey, Grace, is born April 29. She is the fifth patas baby born at the zoo and the first offspring for mother, Becca.
A female reindeer, Derby, is born May 4. Named in honor of her birth on the running of the Kentucky Derby, she is the first calf born at the zoo since 2002 and the largest born to date.
Zoo welcomes its first Chinese muntjac fawn in 15 years, a male named Fang, May 16.
Friends of the Zoo hosts its annual meeting May 22 to introduce the strategic master planning process that will create a vision for the zoo's future. Onondaga County and Friends enlist Zoo Advisors LLC and GLMZ Zoos, firms at the top of their field with years of experience in zoo planning, to assist.
Zoo hosts grand opening of Northwestern Mutual Animal Encounter June 5. Once home to Asian elephants, the space is transformed into a new show yard and meet and greet area. New features include amphitheater-style seating for more than 100 guests, designated areas for guests in wheelchairs and their companions, stroller parking, expanded fence line viewing, new substrate for exhibit and demonstration areas, animal shade umbrellas with simulated tree bark structures, renovations to the pool and fresh coat of paint on structure walls, exhibit fencing and elephant pool.
Female and male markhor twins, Sasha and Turgan, are born June 23. The markhor kids are siblings to Marisa, born July 2012.
Zoo hosts grand opening of the giant Pacific octopus exhibit at the entrance of U.S.S. Antiquities June 24. The octopus is named Ophelia, and several different species of fish, sea stars and anemones also reside in the tank. Zoo is the first in upstate New York with a giant Pacific octopus. Exhibit is funded by Friends of the Zoo through a private donation from Rick and Laura Iorio of Manlius. The tank is designed by Living Color, an authority on aquariums based out of Florida. Exhibit construction, installation and reveal is featured on an episode of National Geographic Wild's "Fish Tank Kings" in April 2014
A female Thorold's white-lipped deer, Kaila, is born July 13. As one of only two AZA accredited zoos breeding white-lipped deer in the U.S, her birth is significant to the North American population.
A female Hoffmann's two-toed sloth, Araña, is born August 1. The 49th sloth born at the zoo, she has been completely hand-reared by zoo staff since she was four days old. Zoo is first known in the nation to successfully hand-raise a Hoffmann's two-toed sloth.
Zoo is granted full professional accreditation through 2018 by AZA at the national conference in Kansas City in September.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney announces November 8 that effective January 1, 2014, all veterans, active military members and their immediate families will receive free admission to the zoo and all County Parks as signed into law in October.
I hope that you fully enjoy your visit to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park. We are especially proud of our zoo, from its focus on animal welfare, to its “green building” status, to its interactive capabilities.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo prides itself on its accrediation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a distinction earned by fewer than 220 institutions. AZA accreditation is your guarantee that the Rosamond Gifford Zoo meets the highest standards of animal care and guest experience.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is also a breeding zoo, which works closely with other AZA institutions to help ensure the survival of threatened and endangered species around the world.
Take your time, look at the animals, look at the plants, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and help us make the world a better place for animals and people. Thank you for your support!
Ted Fox has worked at the zoo since 1991. A graduate of Cornell University, he has a bachelor's degree in animal science.
Fox sits on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) passerine Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). In this role, he collaborates with zoo experts across the country to examine the conservation needs of the entire taxa, and to develop recommendations for population management and conservation based upon the needs of the species and the facilities that house them.
Among his many achievements, Fox was instrumental in the development of the zoo's Humboldt penguin exhibit, which opened in 2005. Though industry experts forecasted that it would take five years for the penguin pairs to become established and produce chicks, the first chicks hatched just one year after the exhibit opened. To date, 36 chicks have hatched in Syracuse, an accomplishment for which the zoo is nationally recognized. Fox regularly consults with zoological institutions around the country in preparation for new exhibit openings and about penguin management, especially as it pertains to breeding.
He was also instrumental in raising the first Andean condor chick to be used for conservation education in Venezuela by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in conjunction with Bioandina Foundation and Inparques, the Venezuelan National Park Service, through a program that funds various components of a conservation program, the goal of which is the establishment of a viable population of Andean condors in Venezuela. To date, the bird has met thousands of people and spread the word about the importance of protecting the species, which is threatened in the wild.
In addition, Fox teaches an honors course, Challenges of Zoo Management, at Syracuse University.