Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Zoo plans include new gorilla, rhino, and giraffe areas

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 10:16 AM

click to enlarge Conceptual plans call for relocation of the snow leopards to a different area of the Seneca Park Zoo. - PHOTO COURTESY KELLI O'BRIEN / SENECA PARK ZOO
  • PHOTO COURTESY Kelli O'Brien / Seneca Park Zoo
  • Conceptual plans call for relocation of the snow leopards to a different area of the Seneca Park Zoo.
In the coming years, Seneca Park Zoo plans to keep its Bornean orangutans — it's the only zoo in New York that has the species — and add gorillas and giraffes.

It'll also tear down the main building and replace it with a tropical building to house orangutans and gorillas. The white rhino that currently lives in the building will get new digs in an enhanced Step Into Africa area located north of the elephants, but within zoo boundaries. It'll be outfitted for giraffes and other "hoof stock" animals, too. 

That's phase one of a draft 10-year plan for the zoo, and it carries a $38-million price tag, Monroe County Parks director Larry Staub said last night. The county and zoo will probably look to the Seneca Park Zoo Society and public fund raising to cover some of the costs, he said. 

The Parks Department and the zoo held an open house yesterday afternoon to show the public conceptual designs for the planned improvements. (The display materials from the open house are attached at the end of this post.)

The zoo's main building has to go if the facility wants to keep its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Staub said. Right now, the building houses rhinos, orangutans, and snow leopards, and other animals — all with different natural habitats.

"You've got three continents of animals in one building," Staub said.

The new tropics building would house the orangutans and gorillas, as well as the zoo's lemurs, and would include habitats that could be shared among certain groups of animals — species that can peacefully coexist, such as orangutans and gibbons. That's the general approach the zoo will use with habitat development going forward, Staub said. 

And the exhibits won't be small. The gorilla area will include 10,000 square feet of outdoor area and 2,700 square feet of indoor area, Staub says.

The snow leopards will be shifted to an Asian Highlands exhibit — an area of the zoo that will be next to the Rocky Coast exhibit and focus on canines and large cats.

The concepts also include the addition of a train to help people get from one end of the zoo to the other, and elevated walkways over some of the exhibits.

Seneca Park Zoo Master Plan Concept 5-19-15

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