Prehensile-Tailed Skink

Prehensile-Tailed Skink

This skink gets its name from its tail which can be used curl around objects such as branches for balance.This is the only known species of skink with a prehensile, or grasping, tail.

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News

Friends of the Zoo Meets $75,000 Challenge Match Goal


Syracuse, N.Y. (January 11, 2012) - Friends of the Zoo announced today that the organization met the $75,000 challenge match granted by the Fred L. Emerson Foundation. In August, the Auburn-based foundation offered a dollar-for-dollar match for individual gifts to Friends of the Zoo's capital campaign, Conserving What We Love: The Campaign for Elephants and Primates; 259 people committed $76,540. With the addition of the matching funds, bringing the campaign total to $1,554,646-97 percent of the $1.6 million goal.

"It is always gratifying to see an organization use a challenge grant to motivate other funders to support a worthy cause such as the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.  We congratulate the Friends of the Zoo on the great progress of their capital campaign," said Anthony D. Franceschelli, president of the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.

"We are so thankful to everyone for supporting our fundraising efforts and helping us meet our challenge match goal," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo. "We are in an excellent position as we wrap up our capital campaign."

Final improvements for Asian Elephant Preserve and Primate Park, as well as upgrades for Gatherings, the zoo's green courtyard, are planned for 2012, including:

  • Shade structure and access chute for lemurs to enter Primate Park
  • Improved sound systems for keeper talks and animal demonstrations
  • Renovations to Northwestern Mutual Elephant Encounter, including hillside seating for viewing elephant demonstrations
  • New seating and gazebo renovation in Gatherings
  • Educational signage about animals and green initiatives

Community members may give to Friends of the Zoo in many different ways to support the Conserving What We Love capital campaign; contributions of any size are welcome. Contributions are tax deductible and may be made by contacting the zoo at (315) 435-8511 x132; additional information is available online at rosamondgiffordzoo.org/zoocampaign.

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Rosamond Gifford Zoo's Elephant Herd Reunites

Targa, Mali & little Chuck to make public debut with
Romani & Kirina in Asian Elephant Preserve

Syracuse, NY (November 22, 2011) - The Rosamond Gifford Zoo reunited its Asian elephant herd in Asian Elephant Preserve today. The herd was separated in 2006 when zoo officials relocated Targa and her daughter, Mali, to Canada's African Lion Safari due to space constraints. The pair returned earlier in the month, accompanied by Mali's three-year-old son, little Chuck, who was born in Canada.

"The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is internationally known for its elephant program," said County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney. "We've been waiting to share this moment with the community for a long time."

"Reintroduction is a process," said Zoo Director Ted Fox. "Over the past several days, we've been bringing the herd together to interact under the close watch of our keepers. Today we're thrilled to bring them out together for the public to see for the first time."

Targa, Mali and little Chuck spent a brief period of time in quarantine upon their return to the zoo. State and federal veterinary teams conducted several medical tests-all of which came back negative-shortly after they arrived in Syracuse.

"Once we were given the 'all clear' from the veterinary staff and because the returning elephants settled in so nicely, we were able to bring the herd together rather quickly," said Fox. "We're so happy to have them home."

Observations and Anecdotes

When Targa returned to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, she gave her family a quick once over and then turned her attention to Indy, the zoo's resident bull elephant and her long-lost love (Indy is Mali's father). She flapped her ears and vocalized frequently to greet him. Since then, the pair has been reaching towards each other, touching trunks and seemingly rekindling an old flame.

The first time the group was brought together, Targa and Mali were the most vocal. Elephants make a variety of sounds, including trumpets, toots, rumbles, squeaks and roars, to express their emotions. When Siri, Romani and Kirina entered the barn, Targa and Mali began greeting them immediately. The roars and trumpets built to a crescendo that was almost deafening.

The keepers anticipated that Kirina would be very interested in little Chuck. As predicted, her curiosity was peaked and she is spending considerable time doting over him. It is common for elephant calves to have one or more "aunties" within the herd. Though she just met him, Kirina has taken to this role very easily.

Siri, well-known for her attachment to humans, more specifically her keepers, has been introduced to the returning elephants. However, because she can be rather mischievous in her treatment of other elephants, the transition with her and the rest of the herd will take much longer. For now, Siri will only interact with the group in the barn, under the watchful eye of the keeper staff.

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Rosamond Gifford Zoo's Elephants Return from Canada

Targa, Mali and little Chuck are now residing at Asian Elephant Preserve; the herd will be reunited once the trio clears quarantine.

 Syracuse, NY (November 10, 2011) - The Rosamond Gifford Zoo announced today that the three elephants temporarily residing at Canada's African Lion Safari have returned to Syracuse.

"Targa, Mali and little Chuck have safely returned to their home here at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo," said Zoo Director Ted Fox. "We are so thankful to our Canadian colleagues for taking such good care of them over the past five years and look forward to reuniting the herd in the near future."

While the trio is in quarantine at Asian Elephant Preserve, the zoo's remaining female elephants, Siri, Romani and Kirina, are residing in the exhibit space adjacent to the courtyard. The male elephant, Indy, remains at the preserve, but will be kept separate from the returning elephants.

"This is an exciting time to be at the zoo," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo. "We are so grateful to members of the community who took part in our 'Buy a Mile' campaign, which raised $8,650 to help bring the elephants home."

Friends of the Zoo has just over $150,000 left to raise to meet its $1.6 million capital campaign.  For a limited time, the Fred L. Emerson Foundation in Auburn, NY will offer a dollar-for-dollar match on individual contributions to the campaign up to $75,000.  The Friends campaign will support the completion of several important educational components and exhibit enhancements to Asian Elephant Preserve and Primate Park as well as renovations to Elephant Encounter, the zoo's original elephant exhibit. These finishing touches will provide the animals with the best possible environment and will help visitors learn about these amazing creatures.

Targa, Mali and little Chuck can be seen through the viewing window of the Pachyderm Pavilion at Asian Elephant Preserve and will also spend time outdoors in the holding yard. Once they clear quarantine, they will be given access to the preserve, as well. The public will be invited to witness this occasion.

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Friends of the Zoo Receives
$75,000 Challenge Match for Campaign

Emerson Foundation offers donors opportunity to double their dollars in support of the zoo

Syracuse, N.Y. (September 12, 2011) - The Fred L. Emerson Foundation has pledged a $75,000 Challenge Match to Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo's capital campaign, Conserving What We Love: The Campaign for Elephants and Primates at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, to help encourage community members to participate in the campaign-or consider an additional gift, if they've already made a contribution. With this opportunity, the campaign could see an additional increase of $150,000 through the foundation's dollar-for-dollar match. To date, Friends of the Zoo has raised $1,301,483 or 81 percent of the $1.6 million goal.

"The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is an important, educational institution in our region.  We are pleased to be able to help the Friends of the Zoo attract more support for the Conserving What We Love capital campaign," said Anthony D. Franceschelli, president of the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.

"We are grateful to the Emerson Foundation for giving members of our community the opportunity to double their dollars in support of the zoo," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo. "I love that our community is so generous and know that the support of individuals and families will help us reach our goal."

The foundation will match gifts from individuals and group fundraisers; corporate gifts, while welcome, are not eligible for the match. Friends of the Zoo encourages children, schools, scout troops, religious groups and other organizations to host a fundraiser in support of the zoo. Suggested activities include:

Bake Sale Dinner Dance Penny Drive
Bottle & Can Drive Dress Down Day Spaghetti Dinner
Candy Sale Lemonade Stand White Elephant Sale
Car Wash Pancake Breakfast Yard Sale


Community members may give to Friends of the Zoo in many different ways; contributions of any size are welcomed toward the $1.6 million goal. Contributions are tax deductible and may be made by contacting the zoo at (315) 435-8511 x132; additional information is available online at rosamondgiffordzoo.org/challengematch.

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Zoo to celebrate elephants, Asian culture and
major investment from Reisman Foundation

Syracuse, NY (August 17, 2011) - Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo announced today a $100,000 commitment from The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation. The foundation's support will be recognized at the public viewing pavilion and seating area of the zoo's new Asian Elephant Preserve exhibit, which offers visitors an opportunity to pause and spend time observing the elephant herd in the four acre grazing yard or to watch an engaging elephant demonstration. It will be named The Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation Elephant Overlook.

This latest contribution to Friends of the Zoo's $1.6 million capital campaign, Conserving What We Love: The Campaign for Elephants and Primates, comes as the zoo is preparing to host the annual Asian Elephant Extravaganza on August 20 and brings the total committed to the campaign to $1,270,983, or 79.4% of the goal.

Asian Elephant Extravaganza runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is free with zoo admission. The event, which celebrates Asian elephants and their impact on South Asian culture, is co-sponsored by the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University and the South Asia Center at Syracuse University. It is a yearly occasion for the community to honor the zoo's elephant herd.

Asian elephants are intelligent and extremely social animals. They are also endangered. There are fewer Asian elephants in the wild (~35,000) than there are seats in the Carrier Dome (49,250); the management and breeding of Asian elephants in captivity is essential to their survival. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has been in cooperation with the Association of Zoos and Aquarium Asian elephant Species Survival Plan since 1981.

A number of special activities are planned for the celebration. A full schedule can be found here.

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Northwestern Mutual Makes Major Investment in Rosamond Gifford Zoo


Syracuse, NY (July 20, 2011) - Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo announced today a $100,000 commitment from Northwestern Mutual to name the zoo's original elephant exhibit near the courtyard. The exhibit will be known as the Northwestern Mutual Elephant Encounter. The donation is part of Friends of the Zoo's $1.6 million capital campaign, Conserving What We Love: The Campaign for Elephants and Primate, which brings the total committed to the campaign to $1,155,848, or 72% of the goal.

"Northwestern Mutual is all about families and protecting our loved ones through financial security," said Paul Dodd, managing partner of the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network's Greater New York Group. "The zoo, with its focus on families and reverence for all life, is a perfect match for our values.  Supporting the zoo is our way of living our values and supporting our community."

To commemorate their support, Northwestern Mutual will give free ice cream to the first 100 children attending the Homecoming Celebration on Friday, July 29 at the zoo. The event, which runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., will celebrate the opening of the elephants' new home and features animal demonstrations, games and music. The Jungle Café and gift shop will be open.

"We are so appreciative of the generous support from Paul Dodd and Northwestern Mutual," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo. "Support of this nature speaks volumes about a company's commitment to the community."

The contribution will fund renovations to the Northwestern Mutual Elephant Encounter. The elephant exhibit adjacent to the courtyard is a destination for families and visitors to watch elephant demonstrations and to touch and view elephants up close, one-on-one. New additions to the space will include:

  • Hillside stadium seating for zoo visitors to watch elephant demonstrations
  • An Asian elephant biofact station to feature elephant artifacts and information about this highly endangered species
  • Substrate for animal exhibit and demonstration areas
  • Animal shade umbrellas with simulated tree bark structures
  • Fresh paint on structure walls, exhibit fencing and elephant pool

A grand re-opening will take place in summer 2012. Friends of the Zoo is continuing to raise funds; contributions and pledges of any size are welcomed toward the $1.6 million goal. Contributions are tax deductible and may be made by contacting the zoo at (315) 435-8511 x132; additional information is available online at rosamondgiffordzoo.org/zoocampaign.

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Asian Elephant Preserve Opened at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo


Syracuse, NY (June 30, 2011) - County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney joined the staff at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo today for the grand opening of Asian Elephant Preserve.  The exhibit, once a seasonal destination for the zoo's female elephants, will become the permanent home for the entire herd.

"The elephants' new home was designed by our animal experts and built by local businesses to provide our elephants with a beautiful environment that offers all the amenities the trainers need to ensure the health and well-being of the herd," said Mahoney.

In addition to the four acre preserve, the new exhibit includes a 10,000+ square foot barn with a viewing window that will allow zoo visitors to freely view the elephants' day-to-day activities and care, an experience never before offered at the zoo.

Features of the new exhibit include:

  • An Elephant Overlook to allow visitors and families the opportunity to pause and spend time observing the elephants or watch an engaging elephant demonstration at a shaded overlook and seating area just off the existing boardwalk trail
  • 10,000+ square foot barn (Pachyderm Pavilion)
  • Four-acre naturalized habitat
  • Three additional outdoor exercise enclosures
  • Misters and sand wallows
  • Oversized shade structures
  • Giant scratching post
  • World-class technology, allowing for the safe housing and handling of the elephants
  • A private maternity ward with separate breeding and calving rooms

"This facility will allow us to bring home our three elephants, Targa, Mali and little Chuck, later this summer, giving us the distinction of being among the top five elephant herds in the nation," said Chuck Doyle, former director of the zoo. "We will be able to continue our breeding program to help ensure that your children's children will be able to experience the beauty of Asian elephants."

Prior to the elephants entering the preserve, Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo and Jack Luchsinger, chairman of the board, presented Mahoney with a $250,000 check, payable to Onondaga County, as part of Friends of the Zoo's $1.6 million commitment to the capital improvement projects.


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Friends of the Zoo Reaches $1 Million in Fundraising Effort

With just over two weeks until the grand opening of Asian Elephant Preserve, Friends of
the Zoo is pleased with milestone achievement.

Syracuse, NY (June 14, 2011) - Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is pleased to announce that the non-profit organization has surpassed the $1 million mark, raising $1,030,287--or 64.4 percent--of its $1.6 million goal for Conserving What We Love: The Campaign for Elephants and Primates at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. On April 22, Friends of the Zoo announced the public phase of the campaign. At that time, $922,275, or 57.6 percent of the goal, had been raised.

"We are enormously pleased to have reached this milestone in our campaign," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo. "We have such wonderful supporters in this community--individuals, foundations and corporations--who have generously given to the zoo."

The three projects funded in part by the capital campaign are:

ASIAN ELEPHANT PRESERVE, a major expansion of the zoo's Asian elephant breeding program, which can accommodate up to 12 elephants, giving the Rosamond Gifford Zoo the distinction of having one of the top five Asian elephant collections in the United States.

The grand opening for Asian Elephant Preserve will be Thursday, June 30 at 10 a.m.

PRIMATE PARK,
a new outdoor exhibit, which allows several primate species to be seen and heard up close by the public.

GATHERINGS,
a renovated "green" gathering space where people can assemble for picnics, special zoo events, and private parties.

Contributions and pledges of any size are welcomed toward the $1.6 million goal. Contributions are tax deductible and may be made by contacting the zoo at (315) 435-8511 x108; additional information is available online at rosamondgiffordzoo.org/zoocampaign.

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Friends of the Zoo Launch $1.6 Million Capital Campaign

Funds to complete Asian Elephant Preserve, Primate Park & Gatherings

Syracuse, NY (April 15, 2011) - Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo kicked off a $1.6 million capital campaign called Conserving What We Love: The Campaign for Elephants and Primates at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The first phase of the campaign raised $922,275 - 58 percent of the fundraising goal - with support from individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as the board of directors, staff and volunteers.

"This campaign supports three very important projects at the zoo," said Janet Agostini, president of Friends of the Zoo. "In addition to Gatherings, our renovated green courtyard, these funds will help complete Primate Park and Asian Elephant Preserve, which will maintain the Rosamond Gifford Zoo's status as one of America's best mid-sized zoos."

At today's launch, Friends of the Zoo thanked two lead donors for their early support of the campaign. Nancy Rifken, a long time zoo supporter, made a lead gift to name the new building that will house the zoo's elephant herd. M&T Bank made a lead gift to support the construction of an Asian elephant biofact station that will educate people of all ages about this highly endangered and fascinating animal.

"Supporting the zoo just makes sense. We have been a strong supporter of the zoo for the past 15 years," said Allen Naples, regional president of the bank. "The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is important to the CNY community both as an educational and entertaining place for people of all ages."

County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney emphasized the strong public-private partnership between the county and Friends of the Zoo.  The county is funding 80 percent of the $8.5 million project cost through the Parks for Tomorrow II bond issue passed in 2007 and the Save the Rain program. Friends of the Zoo is raising the remaining 20 percent through private support.

"The successful partnership between the County and Friends of the Zoo allows us to have a world-class zoo which is an integral part of our community, contributing to the economy and quality of life of Central New York," said County Executive Joanie Mahoney. "And, on behalf of Onondaga County, we are happy to work with the Friends of the Zoo to raise the final private funds necessary to complete Asian Elephant Preserve, Primate Park and Gatherings."

Asian elephant preserve will maximize the zoo's ability to contribute to the preservation of Asian elephants. "There are fewer Asian elephants in the wild than there are seats in the Carrier Dome," said Agostini. "There are 49,250 seats in the Carrier Dome and an estimated 35,000 Asian elephants in the wild."

Agostini invited the community to support the zoo through the "Buy a Mile" campaign, an effort to bring three of the zoo's elephants, Targa, Mali and little Chuck, home from the African Lion Safari in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, where they have been temporarily housed while the elephant exhibit has been under construction. For $10 per mile, the public can help fund the elephants' journey home.

Throughout spring break, the Friends of the Zoo will hold a number of special activities to educate the public and raise additional funds for the campaign. Contributions and pledges of any size are welcomed toward the $1.6 million goal. Contributions are tax deductible and may be made by contacting the zoo at (315) 435-8511 x132; additional information is available online at rosamondgiffordzoo.org/zoocampaign.

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