Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Major Donors Get Sneak Peek at Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s New Animal Health Center

SYRACUSE, NY, September 17, 2021 - Donors to the new Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo got a sneak peek inside the facility at a special recognition event Thursday evening, allowing them to see the significant spaces they sponsored and speak with zoo officials about the work that will take place there.

The exterior of the 21,000-square-foot health center is nearly complete and workers are currently finishing the interior, including animal treatment and exam rooms, diagnostic testing areas, surgical suite, ICU/nursery, labs, nutrition kitchen and more. The health center will be the largest zoological medical center in New York state outside of the Bronx Zoo when it opens later this fall.

Onondaga County allocated $7.5 million to design, engineer, build and landscape the new health center, while the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo launched a One Health | One Mission Capital Campaign to furnish it with state-of-the-art medical equipment.

Many longtime zoo supporters made gifts to put their names on health care rooms, offices or equipment in the health center, from the lobby, pharmacy and ICU to an oxygen holding cage and a small animal anesthesia machine.

“Organizations, foundations and individual community members and families all contributed to the support we have received to put the final touches on the Animal Health Center,” said Friends of the Zoo Executive Director Carrie Large. “To date, we have raised a total of $650,931.07, almost two-thirds of our $1.1 million goal.”

An inspirational gift from Sarah Fleming of Syracuse and her three siblings resulted in a room honoring their mom, Barbara Jean Coffey, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease last year.

Coffey was an avid fan of the zoo, animals, science and learning, so her children chose to combine her favorite interests by holding their own fund-raiser for the health center. They raised enough money -- $10,000 – to sponsor the Necropsy Room in Coffey’s memory. Necropsy is a term for an animal autopsy. “It may sound a little morbid, but my mom would find it fascinating,” Fleming said.

Zoo Director Ted Fox thanked the donors for their support for animal health care, conservation and education for the animal health care providers of the future. The health center will serve as a teaching hospital for Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Zoological Medicine students, interns and residents, as well as a research facility to advance conservation of endangered species in the wild.

Fox said the health center will demonstrate the “One Health” philosophy that animals, humans and the environment are all connected and the health of each affects the others.

“This new facility will enable us to put into practice everything we know about the different types of care that different animals need to thrive,” Fox said. “It also will contribute to greater knowledge about animal health care and help educate our public to support healthy choices for wildlife, people and our planet.”

Large said the One Health | One Mission Capital Campaign is still underway and will include funding a Junior Veterinary Clinic where children can imagine future careers in animal healthcare while treating plush animals with toy medical tools during visits to the health center.

Anyone interested in supporting the Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo may visit

Donor Plaque Photo
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