‘The Excitement is Building!’ at Utica Zoo

Published Aug 8, 2018 at 4:00pm

UTICA — At a press conference Aug. 2 inside the currently under construction Primate Building, the Utica Zoo announced its next zoo improvement campaign — “The Excitement is Building!”

The next phase of the “Dream Big” Master Plan will bring a newly designed outdoor ‘Living Rainforest’ for the zoo’s white-handed gibbons, a ‘Living Rainforest’ for the zoo’s spider monkeys and significant upgrades and renovations to the interior, roof, and visitor viewing and keeper areas.

The renovations mark the first time since 1988 that this area of the Primate Building will be utilized as public exhibit space.

“The footprint we are unveiling today clearly describes the transition from “We Don’t like It Either”, our 2016 fundraising campaign to begin the construction project, to “The Excitement is Building!”, says Andria Heath, executive director of the Utica Zoo.

“The elements of design of the new exhibits, including the natural setting, overall size, materials utilized, visitor experience and viewing area are not only different from the methodology the zoo was capable of utilizing in the past, but sets the expectation for exhibit design for the future of the Utica Zoo,” Heath added.

The overall project is expected to cost approximately $3.13 Million:

Project underway: $913,000;

Spider monkey exhibit expansion: $1,116,000;

Interior white-handed gibbon exhibit and general building improvements: $987,000;  

Grand entrance and observation treehouse: $100,000; and

New Roof: $20,000.

To launch this phase of “The Excitement is Building!” Campaign, two extraordinary donors have come forward with challenge funds. The initial 2016 campaign was sparked by a $25,000 challenge by an anonymous donor in memory of a ‘remarkable man’ which was successfully met.  The same source is repeating a challenge grant for this initiative.  Additionally, local benefactor to the Utica Zoo, Dr. Kenneth Murphy, has also pledged $50,000 to be matched.  The combined challenges require the full $75,000 in donations to be received prior to Oct. 31, 2018.

“The Utica Zoo attracts many visitors from the region and beyond while also providing a fun, safe and educational space for families and others to spend time together and to learn about some of the animals that inhabit our planet,” said state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome. “I had the pleasure of securing funding to help with renovations and other upgrades at the zoo so that it can continue to grow. I am excited to see these projects progress and am optimistic about what the future might hold for the Utica Zoo.” 

“On behalf of the Utica Zoo Board of Directors, we are appreciative of the initial contributions from all, large and small, who have provided the groundwork to get this far in the exhibit for the white-handed gibbons. We look forward to thanking, with gratitude, those who will step forward to generously support this next phase for the Mexican spider monkeys and other species from the Living Rainforest whose stories of conservation and preservation need to be told” comments Utica Zoo Board President Robert B. Jubenville, PhD.

To learn more about the new campaign and to donate to the cause, visit UticaZoo.org/donate.

To stay up to date on all things Utica Zoo, visit UticaZoo.org, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @UticaZoo.