Zoo Happenings

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Summer kicks off at the Zoo with brews, a tiger birthday party & hourly programs

This summer, Monroe County’s Seneca Park Zoo has expanded its programming to include animal experiences and engaging opportunities to enrich your Zoo visit every hour, every day beginning Saturday, May 23.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Our popular Summer Programs reflect the role your Zoo plays in conserving wildlife in wild places and will captivate all ages. Visitors can see the alligators eat lunch, learn about the newly expanded elephant herd and hear from zoo keepers about how they care for the Zoo’s most popular animals, from Lou the hyena to to whole African penguin flock. Check out the full schedule of summer programs here.

Saturday will also feature a birthday celebration for our Amur tigers, Anastasia and Katya, from 1 to 3 p.m. After singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ visitors can watch a special enrichment demonstration and learn about how to help save these magnificent animals in their natural range.


Photo by Kelley Parker


Memorial Day Weekend kicks off tonight with the popular 21-and-older happy hour event, ZooBrew. Featuring five bars and three live bands from 5:30 to 9 p.m, this event will take place monthly throughout the summer. Tickets are available online or at the Front Gate.


Photo by Kelli O’Brien


Seneca Park Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Grounds remain open until 5 p.m. The Zoo opens at 9:30 a.m. for our Zoo members. For more information, visit senecaparkzoo.org.

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Learn about Saving Animals From Extinction on Endangered Species Day

As the world honors Endangered Species Day for the 10th year in a row today, Seneca Park Zoo, along with other accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), is celebrating the launch of SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction.

SAFE logo

SAFE combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA institutions, partnering them to save animals from extinction.

SAFE will focus its efforts on 10 species, one of which is the African penguin, an animal Seneca Park Zoo has become a national leader in helping to conserve.

Our Zoo is home to the top breeding colony in the country, with 93 successful hatchlings since 1999. Chicks hatched at Seneca Park Zoo have been sent to 25 accredited zoos and aquariums across North America.

Endangered Species Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate this conservation success story and to learn what still needs to be done to save African penguins from extinction.

Photo by Walter Brooks

Photo by Walter Brooks

So join us at the Zoo today and learn from volunteer educators, enjoy keeper talks and share how you would finish the sentence, Saving animals from extinction is important to me because ____.

All activities take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Penguin Exhibit.

Schedule of activities:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Talk to docents, the Zoo’s volunteer educators, about African penguins and how the Zoo is helping to build sustainable populations in their natural range.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are invited to share your thoughts about saving endangered species on chalkboards.

10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Zoo keepers will give talks about the Zoo’s flock and explain how the birds’ genetics are contributing to the national population of penguins in conservation care.

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United Way’s Day of Caring at the Zoo

Volunteers were at the Zoo bright and early this morning to help with grounds-keeping and clean-up as part of the United Way of Greater Rochester‘s Day of Caring 2015. 178 More than 70 people from local companies including Bausch + Lomb, Paychex, Harris, RIT’s International Student Services, Center for Women and Gender and National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Thomson-Reuters and Brown & Brown all arrived in their United Way T-shirts and ready to work, dividing up and tackling areas throughout the Zoo. The exhibits of the rhino, snow leopards, eagle, raccoon, alligators and others all got a make over. Thank you to all the volunteers who participated today! We appreciate the hard work you did to make the Zoo an even more beautiful and welcoming place.

Photos by Ceci Menchetti

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Elephant update: Moki & Chana meet Genny C & Lilac

As we stated a few weeks ago when two additional African elephants arrived at Seneca Park Zoo, our goal all along has been to integrate our four elephants — Genny C, Lilac, Moki and Chana — into one group. Well, not only has the process begun; it’s going extremely well!

Two of the elephants intertwine trunks after getting used to the closer quarters.

Two of the elephants intertwine trunks while getting used to their closer quarters.

We asked Zoo Director Larry Sorel to tell us how things are going so far. Here’s what he had to say:

Has anything surprised you?

It’s been a blast to watch the dynamics of the group shift. The more dominate female elephants from each group, Moki and Genny C, are hanging back and allowing Lilac and Chana to determine the next steps.

The elephants are slowly getting used to one another.

The elephants spent time quietly observing on another during their first introduction.

Are all four elephants fully integrated?

At this point, they are sharing the same physical space for limited amounts of supervised time.

What’s the next step?

The animals will continue to guide the process. If things continue to progress the way they have been, we will increase the length of time they spend together and work towards full, unsupervised integration.

Moki & Chana during the first introduction with Genny C & Lilac

Moki & Chana maintained close physical contact during their first introduction with Genny C & Lilac.


You can see our herd seven days a week. Zoo gates open daily at 10 a.m. (9:30 a.m. for Zoo members) and close at 4 p.m. Once on grounds, you may stay until 5 p.m. More visitor info here.

We hope to see YOU at the Zoo soon!


Photos by Ceci Menchetti

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Zoo Volunteers make the most of National Volunteer Month

Rochester is a city with a big heart. Volunteerism abounds in our area and that holds true at Seneca Park Zoo. April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, and as it draws to a close, we’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all Zoo volunteers.

Docent Marianne Dambra at Bella the orangutan's birthday.

Docent Marianne Dambra at Bella the orangutan’s birthday.

It was a busy month at the Zoo, and whether you helped support conservation efforts at Party for the Planet, helped host the first-ever Teen Night, educated visitors at Bella the orangutan’s birthday party, assisted zoo keepers with husbandry duties or helped to keep our grounds beautiful, we thank you.

ZooTeen Leaders 2015

ZooTeen Leaders 2015

But it’s not just this month that volunteers have gone above and beyond at the Zoo. Last year, Zoo volunteers logged a total of 21,659 hours:

  • 281 general volunteers gave 7,658.45 hours.
  • 105 ZooTeens gave 6,793.5 hours of their time.
  • 92 docents spent 6,578.75 hours volunteering.
  • Board and committee members volunteered 589.75 hours.
  • Interns spent 241 hours at the Zoo.

The time these people graciously volunteered was equivalent to 10.5 full-time staff members. We salute our volunteers and their dedication to this great organization and hope that you each know we could not do what we do without your help.


If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at Seneca Park Zoo, please feel free to contact me. With the summer approaching, we are always looking to add new volunteers to our team, especially to assist with our great events. I can be reached at (585) 295-7354 or eroach@senecazoo.org


— Elizabeth Roach, Volunteer Coordinator; Photos by Ceci Menchetti

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Growing Native: adopting a highway and restoring habitat

Grow Native DOT sign on RT 104

Grow Native DOT sign on RT 104

In their Department of Transportation hardhats and fluorescent vests, members of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) chapter of Seneca Park Zoo have been busy beautifying Bay Bridge overlook, adjacent to the highway sign “Seneca Park Zoo, ‘Grow Native’.” For the last decade, Zoo staff has picked up litter at the site and maintained a garden of wildflowers native to Upstate New York such as blue lupines, orange milkweed and yellow black-eyed Susans.

Zoo keepers spreading new compost mixed with native seeds.

Our goal is to raise community awareness about the benefits of native gardening while cleaning litter from one of the most scenic meadows to be seen just before crossing above Irondequoit Bay.

Adopt A Highway cleanup at our Grow Native Garden: bags of trash, beer cans, Styrofoam cups, dirty diapers and two suitcases...

Adopt A Highway cleanup at our Grow Native Garden: bags of trash, beer cans, Styrofoam cups, dirty diapers and two suitcases…

Native flowers do not require fertilizer, which damages our waterways with excessive phosphorous and nitrogen, causing algal blooms which pose wildlife, pet and human health risks.

Algal blooms caused by excessive phosphorous and nitrogen in fertilizer. Photo via aquaview.net

Algal blooms caused by excessive phosphorous and nitrogen in fertilizer. Photo via aquaview.net

Native flowers also do not require additional water given their acclimation to our Upstate environment.

Lupines, the first to bloom.

Lupines, the first to bloom.

Growing native flowers instead of exotic ornamentals will help displace and prevent aggressive, invasive plant species from harming habitat.

Not using fertilizer or additional water and displacing invasive plant species are all welcomed practices to protect our waterways and beautify our communities the “natural” way. Go native — grow native in your own yard!


— Blog and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Dr. Jeff Wyatt, Director of Animal Health and Conservation

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Zoo springs back into action with record attendance

Nearly 6,000 people visited Seneca Park Zoo on Thursday, shedding their winter coats and looking for some Spring Break excitement as temperatures reached nearly 70 degrees. It was the highest single day attendance the Zoo has seen since 2008. Visitors waited patiently in lines rivaling those at Disney and moved quickly through the admission gate to start their day of fun.

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

This is one of the best times of year at the Zoo, when the the community comes out to enjoy the outdoors after a long winter and our grounds are busier than ever. While the Zoo is truly a great place to visit all year round, this is just the start of our most exciting season.


Photo by Ceci Menchetti

With enrichment and training demonstrations happening throughout the day, visitors had the chance to interact with zoo keepers and learn more about the animals they came out to see.

Longtime members, local Rochesterians and people from hours away all made the trip to explore the Zoo’s exhibits, chat with docents, and get up close to animals like sea lions, baboons, penguins and more.

Spring Break programs continue through Sunday, April 5.


We want to thank everyone who made it such a great day for your support and welcome you to plan your visit if it’s been a while. There is so much to see and do here—and now is the perfect time to experience all that the Zoo has to offer.

— Pamela Reed Sanchez, Executive Director, Seneca Park Zoo Society and Larry Sorel, Zoo Director

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Photo by Ceci Menchetti


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