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Photo by Vasiliy Baziuk

Photo by Vasiliy Baziuk

We thank everyone who came out in support of our 25th anniversary of Jungle Jog, which took place on Sunday, July 20. Nearly 1,100 runners registered for the event, which included a 5K, mile and Kids’ Fun Run. Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page!

A special thanks to our sponsors M&T Bank, MVP Health Care and Woods Oviatt Gilman, as well as in-kind sponsors McDonald’s, Medved Running and Walking Outfitters and Wegmans.

Kaba (10)

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Today (Tuesday, December 31st) is another special admission day here at the Zoo! We invite you to enjoy one free youth admission with one paid adult admission all day. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. while the Zoo grounds and ZooShop remain open until 4 p.m. Do you need another reason to visit? How about a bunch of reasons?

  • Many of the Zoo’s animals are more active in cold weather – My favorite big cat, Kaba, our male snow leopard shown at the right, ran along the fence with me this morning as I made my way from the front of the Zoo to the E.C.O. Center. Expect to see polar bears, Canadian lynx and Amur tigers enjoying temperatures similar to their native climes.
  • There are some beautiful interlopers on the Genesee Trail. The pond by the bald eagles becomes a winter haven for some smart teals and mallards who have realized that our pond doesn’t freeze, and that meals come at regular intervals.
  • Animals from warmer climates don’t mind the cold. Watch our lions play in the snow! That should be all the incentive you need.
  • The 2014 Seneca Park Zoo Calendar is 50% off at the ZooShop! Pick up a few of these stunning calendars as last minute gifts, or the perfect addition to your office wall. Other unique items are now on sale as well.

Do you have any resolutions for 2014? Perhaps you would like to give more of your time or resources to a worthy cause, like an organization that educates the community regarding animals, local wildlife and conservation. That is the Zoo!

The Zoo is the perfect place to volunteer your time – we have a lengthy list of events for 2014 for which we will need some enthusiastic volunteers. Join the corps of our general volunteers and you could help enhance the Zoo experience for others. More information may be found here.  If you are looking to become a volunteer educator at the Zoo, consider becoming a docent. Our docents are a dedicated group of people with a passion for animals, the environment and the Zoo! Docent classes begin in March 2014, with two informational sessions scheduled for February 27th and March 1st, so click here for more information.

Is time something you can’t spare right now? Consider a monetary donation through the United Way. With payroll deductions, giving to the Zoo could not be easier! Enroll your United Way donation through your employer and designate Seneca Park Zoo (number 2439) as the beneficiary. There are many additional ways to donate as well, detailed here.

We wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you at the Zoo in 2014!

- Michele Schepisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant

Did you know that Christmas Eve Day (Dec. 24) is of the Zoo’s special admission days? You get ONE free youth admission with ONE paid adult admission all day!

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Zoo gates are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, December 24th and our ZooShop will be open until 4 p.m. for last-minute gifts and souvenirs. What better way to surprise the animal lover in your life than with a 2014 Seneca Park Zoo Calendar? This gorgeous gift will delight its receiver all year long. Beautiful animal photos, animal facts and coupons for local businesses highlight the calendar. Other unique Seneca Park Zoo gifts are also available, so stop on by!

I received a phone call the other day from a gentleman in Summerville in Irondequoit. He called because he was certain he had seen a baby snowy owl in his yard. After getting his information, I sought out General Curator, David Hamilton to get some insight as to the type of owl this gentleman probably saw. I was astonished by the response David gave me. “This year is an irruption year for the snowy owl,” he said, “There have been sightings at Charlotte Pier and Braddock’s Bay. It’s entirely possible that the person in Summerville saw a snowy owl.” I had no idea snowy owls migrated this far south, so I decided to look up a little more information which I’d like to share with you here.

  • Winter irruptions bring snowy owls into southern Canada about once every four years
  • Snowy owls have been known to migrate as far south as the northern and central United States
  • Irruptions are thought to be tied with the availability of lemmings, the snowy owl’s primary prey
Photo by Jeff Gerew

Photo by Jeff Gerew

This information may be found here at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Web site. This is my go-to site for information about birds. Another great site from Cornell University is feederwatch.org. This site allows you to sign up and log in your bird sightings which actually help with tracking bird populations and migration. What a great way to get involved in bird research with only a small investment of time and effort! (Click here to read an interesting article from eBird.org called Arctic wanderers — Snowy Owl invasion 2013.)

I hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. If you are looking for things to do during this time when many are off from work and school, come to the Zoo, or consider heading north to the Lake with your binoculars to see if there are any snowy owls (which are largely diurnal) or other wonderful species that may be wintering in our area. If you would like to share any sightings, comment here or on the Zoo’s Facebook page.

- Michele Schepisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant

Remember when…?

I’m back with more Zoo history. I’m still in the process of scanning and organizing, but decided to take a break to share some important items from Zoo history for the years 2002 through 2008. It’s been a bit haphazard, as we go through storage boxes, we find caches of items that are not necessarily grouped by year. So enjoy 2002 through 2008 because next time I may be sharing some items from 1996 or 1954. I just can’t predict where this project will lead, and that makes it all the more exciting for me.

Did you know?

  • Haley and Aurora, 2003

    Haley and Aurora, 2003

    Polar bears Yukon and Aurora became parents to twins on 11/15/2002. The male polar bear twin passed away a month later due to intussusception, a complication that arises when the intestines of a young mammal flip or twist. The female polar bear twin, Haley, was transferred to the Brookfield Zoo (Chicago) in March of 2005, where she met her mate Payton. Both currently reside at Memphis Zoo.

  • Speaking of polar bears—Anoki, the cub born to Yukon and Aurora in November 1996, was in a Sierra Mist commercial during the Super Bowl of 2003! Watch the commercial here (the polar bears are at the end.) Anoki now resides at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
  • Kumang and Datu

    Kumang and Datu

    Orangutan Kumang gave birth to baby boy Datu on January 29, 2004. Datu now resides at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin.

  • July 9, 2004 marked the grand opening of the Animal Health and Education Complex at the Zoo. The complex houses the Z.O.T. Zone, the Animal Hospital, classrooms and the Zoo’s Conference Center.
  • It was announced on August 26, 2004 that African elephant Genny C. was pregnant as a result of artificial insemination. The announcement underscored the need for more space for the Zoo’s elephants and resulted in the following: “Bucks for Baby” campaign to raise funds for the new exhibit; The construction of the new elephant exhibit which was opened April 27, 2006 and includes a 10,000-square-foot barn and 22,000-square-foot yard; The construction and dedication of the 1,000-square-foot Time Warner Cable Elephant Atrium which opened on September 22, 2006 NOTE: Sadly, on February 9, 2006, the calf Genny C. was carrying died during the birthing process.
  • One of the three tiger cubs.

    One of the three tiger cubs.

    On May 28, 2005, Amur tiger Kira gave birth to three tiger cubs. The male cub, Ussuri, now resides at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota. The two female cubs are our own eight year-old tigers Katya and Anastasia.

  • The visiting animal for the summer of 2006 was white rhinos. The white rhinos (Bill and Roscoe) become permanent residents at the end of the summer and have resided in the former elephant yard ever since.
  • The Zoo added meerkats to the Main Building in September 2007. Six meerkats debuted in an exhibit area that formerly housed African spurred tortoises and, much earlier, sea lions.
  • The Elephant Splash Pool opened in June 24, 2008.
  • The community was introduced to our olive baboon troop when the exhibit opened on May 8, 2008. Twelve baboons named for different types of olives comprised the troop.

Many of these recent history items are quite fresh in my memory because my family became Zoo members not long after my son was born in 2002. The final item regarding the baboons is especially dear to me because my son was chosen from some of the Zoo’s campers to be one of the first children to encounter the baboons. The encounter was televised on a local news station. He was quite enraptured by these creatures and was awestruck when questioned by the reporter. My husband did all of the talking at that time. Who would have guessed that four years later, I would have a job at the Zoo!

Do you have great memories from the Zoo? Share in the comments section below, or the Zoo’s Facebook page.

- Michele Schepisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant

It was cold Tuesday! Usually when we welcome visitors from other zoos, we joke about, and maybe even apologize for, Rochester’s fickle weather. Not this time. Our visitors were (mostly) colleagues from other upstate zoos who are accustomed to our weather challenges. The focus therefore rested on how we could collaborate and communicate with one another to perhaps solve problems like “How would we incorporate home school or family-style learning into an appealing and informative exhibit or program?” or “How would we support our fellow zoos in the case of a disaster?” We were able present our solutions for animal care challenges and innovations in aquatic life support. We discussed marketing practices and membership tools, recruiting board members and exhibit creation.

Photos by Michele Schpisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant

As the conference began, we chatted with our counterparts from other zoos, shared anecdotes and listened to Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks welcome attendees to the Zoo. Keynote speaker, Craig Piper, Director of City Zoos at Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), discussed opportunities to partner with WCS on the field conservation work they conduct the world over. He inquired about examples of local efforts in field conservation, such as Seneca Park Zoo’s Lake Ontario Sturgeon Reintroduction Program. He fielded questions about seeking out conservation resources and partners in remote areas of the world. He provided an interesting perspective on how budgeting for conservation has changed and could be changed to incorporate efforts on both local and global scales. Once the discussion concluded, attendees moved on to sessions designed to promote dialogue on some issues that affect every zoo and unique issues that would foster suggestions from our colleagues’ perspectives.

The day wasn’t all about deep discussion and problem solving however. Seneca Park Zoo staff took the opportunity to offer tours of some of our favorite areas of the Zoo. Some of us went behind the scenes to view the African lion holding area. Others toured the African elephant barn and saw the heavy hydraulic doors in action. I personally met California sea lions Lily and Marina while listening to Zoologist Mary Ellen Ostrander gush about how wonderful they have been to train and how protective they are of little pup P.J. And, I pet a rhino! It was quite a thrill. Bill the white rhino stood patiently by while Zoologist Tina Fess discussed his temperament and weight and his favorite food—bananas. We were able to feed Bill some bananas and watch his tail curl with happiness. (Are you a Special Friend Member of the Zoo? You may be eligible to feed a rhino or meet a sea lion, too! Click here for more information.)

The day concluded amidst flurries of ideas, new connections and, of course, snow. This conference is another example of how we at the Zoo strive to promote collaboration, conservation, animal care, education and more. And each one of these efforts reinforces the Zoo’s assertion of being “The Natural Place for Families.”

Thank you to the following institutions for sending delegates to the 2013 Upstate Zoo Conference: Buffalo Zoo; Erie Zoological Society; Utica Zoo; Aquarium of Niagara; Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park; Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park (Syracuse); Trevor Zoo (Millbrook); The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park (Watertown); The Wild Center (Tupper Lake); Wildlife Conservation Society (New York City).

- Michele Schepisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant

Recently I was charged with the task of digitizing a portion of the Seneca Park Zoo Society’s archive of news clippings, press releases, photos and slides. As a history buff, this project is right up my alley and I am finding it very interesting. It’s a bit like tracing your genealogy, except the family is composed of animals and humans connected to the Zoo. I get phone calls time to time from people who reminisce about how the Zoo looked 30, 40 or 50 years ago. This project brought back some memories of the Zoo, long forgotten. I thought we could play the “Did You Know?” game so that perhaps my project might help YOU remember some of the Zoo’s history. Here we go!

Photo by Marie Kraus

Photo by Marie Kraus

Photo by Tina Fess

Photo by Tina Fess

Did you know?

  • The Zoo formerly housed a library of more than 2,000 books which was accessible to the public. (1986)
  • Admission to the Zoo was free of charge before noon, Monday through Friday. (1987)
  • The first Jungle Jog was held in 1990, making Jungle Jog 2014 the 25th anniversary of the event.
  • The very first orangutan ever born at the Zoo was Bandar, born in 1993 to parents Kumang and Jiggs. Bandar was sent to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in November 1998.
  • The Zoo celebrated its centennial in 1994, which means 2014 marks the 120th anniversary of the Zoo.
  • Polar bear Aurora gave birth to her first cub, female Anoki, November 20, 1996. Anoki was transferred to the Rio Grande Biological Park in Albuquerque in December 1997 and now resides at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
  • The Rocky Coasts opened in April of 1997. Zoo attendance for 1997 topped 500,000 visitors.
  • White-handed gibbon Dorothy gave birth on St. Patrick’s Day 1997 at age 26. She still resides at the Zoo and is 42 years old.
  • Orangutan Kumang gave birth to daughter Dara on September 23, 1999. Both mother and daughter remain at the Zoo. Father Jiggs passed away at age 35 in January 2001.
  • Polar bear Aurora gave birth to twin cubs on November 27, 1999. A contest was held to name the twins and the winner suggested Inuit names Qilak (the sky) and Sila (the earth).
  • The Zoo’s Butterfly Beltway program was initiated in 2002 to promote the conservation of Monarch butterflies.

As you can see, I have made my way up to 2002. I’m still working and hope to share more memories with you in the future. I invite you to share your memories of the Zoo by commenting here, on Facebook, or by e-mailing your short anecdote or photo to mritchie@senecazoo.org. You may see your story or photo here soon!

EVENT REMINDER:  There is still time to buy advance tickets for the Animal Art Expo being held in the Zoo’s Z.O.T. Zone and Conference Center from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 9th. Purchase tickets at the Zoo’s Front Building by 5 p.m. Friday, November 8th to receive the advance-sale price of $5 for our Zoo members and $7 for non-members. You may also purchase tickets at the Front Gate the evening of the event for the price of $6 for our Zoo members and $8 for non-members. This event is for people 21 and older only and absolutely no one under the age of 21 years old will be admitted.

Photos by Kelli O'Brien

Photos by Kelli O’Brien

The final Go Green! Recycle Rally of the year takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 3rd. Bring your old electronics, like televisions, computers, monitors, DVD players, microwaves and video game systems, to the Zoo’s parking lot. There will also be locked document bins for those important papers that need recycling. These bins are picked up by Shred-Text following the event and are then emptied directly into the shredder. The Zoo will also be collecting clothing, shoes and bicycles. All items are free of charge to recycle. Please note: Batteries must be sealed in sealed Ziploc bags before depositing. The Zoo does not accept air conditioners and household hazardous wastes such as paints, solvents and cleaners.

Join us at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 6th in the Z.O.T. Zone for Book and Beast. This popular story time is free with regular Zoo admission and takes place at 11 a.m. every Wednesday from October to March. Your young children will enjoy an animal-themed story which will include meeting an animal ambassador from our Education Collection. Book and Beast is generously sponsored by Monroe Veterinary Associates.

DSC_2457Tickets are currently on sale for the annual Animal Art Expo. Join the Zoo’s chapter of the AAZK (American Association of Zookeepers) as they present amazing works of art created by some of the Zoo’s most talented animals. Paintings will be presented for sale in the Z.O.T. Zone and there will be a silent auction in the Zoo’s Conference Center. Unique products will also be offered for sale. Because this event features a cash bar, only people 21 and older will be admitted to the Zoo for this event. Tickets may be purchased at the Zoo’s Front Building (next to the Admission Booth) until 5 p.m. Friday, November 8th at a cost of $5 for members and $7 for non-members. Tickets may also be purchased at the Front Gate the night of the event at a cost of $6 for members and $8 for non-members. This is a great opportunity to get some great gifts for the animal lover in your life and for yourself as well!

Breakfast with Santa 3bREMINDER: Our Membership Office is selling tickets for our popular Breakfast with Santa event. Join Santa and his elves (and some of our animal ambassadors) for breakfast in the Rocky Coasts Gallery. Bring your camera because you will want to capture your child’s opportunity to meet Santa in a truly unique venue. There will be three sessions each day of the event— 8:30, 10 and 11:30 a.m. The event will span two weekends—Saturday, December 14th and Sunday, December 15th and Saturday, December 21st and Sunday, December 22nd. This is a member exclusive — only our Zoo members may buy tickets for this event. If you are a member and would like to attend, I urge you to call the Membership Department at (585) 336-7212 as soon as possible because this event does SELL OUT!

- Michele Schepisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant

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