Thrilled to be welcoming a new baby to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

Asian Elephant Mom and Baby Syracuse Zoo RGZ 2019
Janet Agostini Friends of the Zoo President & CEO

On January 15, our Asian elephant herd grew from 7 to 8 with the birth of a bouncing baby boy to elephant parents Mali and Doc.

I am always excited at the sight of any of our elephants, but being able to see a newborn elephant taking some of his first steps is a privilege that really does amount to the best day ever.

Since our County Executive Ryan McMahon announced the birth publicly on January 24, the new baby has been featured in publications and news sites across our state and beyond. It makes us proud to see our zoo recognized as one of only 11 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) that breeds this critically endangered species under the Species Survival Plan for Asian elephants.

As the leader of a non-profit whose mission is to support the zoo, I spend a lot of my time designing capital campaigns to fund zoo projects, educating people about the important conservation work taking place here and securing financial support for everything from an X-ray machine to the 50,000-gallon watering hole at Asian Elephant Preserve.

It is so nice to see the elephant barn sheltering a wonderful multi-generational herd as we envisioned. Your past and ongoing support helped to make this happen – thank you!

I would like to extend the Friends of the Zoo’s congratulations to the entire zoo staff, especially the elephant care team and our veterinary team from Cornell University, on this wonderful occasion – and to re-pledge our support for the amazing work that you do on behalf of the animals at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.

My best,

Janet Agostini
President + CEO
Friends of the Zoo

Squishing of the Squash

Syracuse Zoo RGZ Squishing of the Squash Asian Elephant Feature

What happens to the pumpkins when Halloween’s over? The squash get squished – by our zoo animals! Watch as tigers, bears and elephants stomp, romp and chomp pumpkins of all sizes! Come out and have a “gourd” time at the zoo!

Elephant Preserve Expansion and New Public Walkway Underway

2018 Syracuse Zoo RGZ Walkway Project

Our giant animatronic dinosaurs made their exit at summer’s end – but they’ve been replaced by roaring, moving bulldozers, excavators and backhoes as we embark on an exciting new project. The heavy equipment and construction workers are expanding our Asian Elephant Preserve and replacing the old boardwalk with a new walkway that will be more accessible and offer better views of our elephants, white-lipped deer and red wolves.

Funded by the county with support from the Friends of the Zoo, the project may take several months, during which the Wildlife Trail will be a horseshoe rather than a loop. Once it is completed in the spring, this amazing remodel will transform your experience of that area of the zoo. The new walkway will greatly improve the views of animals and scenery, create more public space all while providing more enriching habitats for our animals.

2018 Syracuse Zoo RGZ Walkway Project Plans

The project, true to our Strategic and Master Plan, includes:

  • A wider, flatter public walkway with ground-level views of animals, including closer observation of our elephant matriarch, Siri, and an Elephant Crossing that will allow visitors and elephants to see each other eye-to-eye.
  • Asian Elephant Preserve will grow from 4.5 to over 6 acres, giving our beloved elephants even more room to roam
  • A larger public gathering space overlooking the elephant preserve and four new viewing areas for elephants, white-lipped deer and red wolves
  • Added features such as a tunnel where elephants can walk under the main gathering area, a mud wallow for white-lipped deer near their viewing area, and a better perspective for viewing our red wolves.

While we improve your zoo, we hope our young construction fans enjoy the sight of so much heavy equipment and the capable crew operating it. As for the animals, our zookeepers ensure us that none of our creatures seems concerned by the activity – and that it actually can be enriching to have a little commotion in their day.

My Best,

Janet Agostini
President + CEO
Friends of the Zoo

Asian Elephant Extravaganza

Syracuse Zoo Asian Elephant Extravaganza Karina

Free for members and with zoo admission

Celebrate Asian culture and honor the zoo’s magnificent elephant herd. Join us for a day-long celebration that blends wildlife conservation education with the rich culture and heritage of the native countries of Asian elephants. Activities include keeper talks and herd member spotlights at Asian Elephant Preserve, education stations with elephant biofacts and information about the significance of elephants in Asian culture.

In partnership with the Syracuse University South Asia Center and the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University


10:30 a.m. – Gamelan Music Performance

10:45 a.m. – Elephant Painting Enrichment Demo
(Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve)

11 a.m. – Bharatanatyam Dance Performance (Classical Indian Dance)

Noon – Gamelan Music Performance

12:30 p.m. – Spotlight on Elephant Foot Care
(Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve)

1 p.m. – Gamelan Music Performance

1:30 p.m. – Bollywood ZOOmba Dancing – Come Join in the Fun!

2 p.m. – Elephant Keeper Talk and Watermelon Smash!
(Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve)

2:30 p.m – Gamelan Music Performance

3 p.m – Elephant Pool Enrichment and Raffle Winner Announcement
(Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve)