As a precautionary measure to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, and in an effort to protect the health and safety of their animals, visitors, volunteers, and staff, the Utica Zoo closed the facility to the public effective Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Although all on-grounds programs and events have been temporarily suspended, the Utica Zoo received essential business status from NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. Paid staff in the animal care and facilities departments are on grounds daily. All volunteer programs have been temporarily suspended. While following social distance guidelines, the Utica Zoo team is insuring the continuation of excellent care and enrichment to the zoo’s animals. The physical facilities are being sanitized, maintained and protected for the staff and animals under current operations and in anticipation of re-opening when appropriate.
While these are unusual times, the Utica Zoo has committed to provide virtual programs and a glimpse into the zoo’s daily wonder. As a “place with a purpose”, the Utica Zoo can provide several fun, engaging and educational tools for the thousands of homebound families. The animals are full of life and, as Spring unfolds with longer days and gentler temperatures, there are so many scenes to witness and enjoy; even if remotely. Online programs, photos and videos will bring the Utica Zoo into homes around the Mohawk Valley, country and globe.
Beginning Monday, March 23rd at 10am, the Utica Zoo will launch “Uti-kaZoo”, the Utica Zoo free online kids’ academy geared for public, private and home-schooled children from both pre-school and elementary settings. Newly developed as a response to last week’s COVID19 precautions and regionwide school closings, the academy will offer engaging activity-based programs which include animals in action, stories, crafts, and do-at-home action items to heighten awareness about conservation and
behaviors to protect animal and plant species. By 10 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday new programs will be posted while life is being lived online. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, additional fun posts, activities and animal stories will be featured. All of the Uti-kaZoo programs and digital content can be found on the Zoo’s social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as on their website at www.uticazoo.org/kazoo.
Although open throughout the year, the Utica Zoo’s peak season is from April 1-October 31 and gains most of its annual revenue to care for the animals during those months through admission, gift shop sales, animal adoptions/encounters, and events. The operating budget requires revenue at an average of $5000 per day to fund the current operational expenses such as staffing, animal diets for over 200 exotic and domestic animals, medicine/vitamins/supplements, hay and veterinary services as well as expenses such as electricity, heat, and more. With the zoo being closed and Spring events being postponed, those revenue streams will bring zero dollars to the zoo. There are many ways the community and businesses can help: Memberships can be purchased and renewed, and monetary sponsorships for programs such as Kids’ Academy, animal exhibits both current and those planned for the 2020 season, annual zoo events and general donations toward what is needed most. The Utica Zoo is a 501C3 and monetary donations are tax-deductible. Sponsorships and contributions of $500 and above are eligible for some fantastic deliverables, please contact Andria Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org or Heather Wasielewski at email@example.com for more information.
For more information about this, and anything else Utica Zoo related, visit UticaZoo.org, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @uticazoo.