Abe and Fatima: a Love Story

Syracuse Zoo RGZ Siamang Apes Abe and Fatima

Please allow me to share with you a love story that has unfolded at your zoo over the past year — the story of Abe and Fatima.

Abe, our male siamang ape, is a longtime zoo resident who turns 40 on February 12. He was in need of a companion after his mate of 10 years passed away.

If we were to write an online dating profile for Abe, it would read something like:
Ruggedly handsome, distinguished male siamang, 39, seeks female counterpart to share Primate Park. Active, extroverted, engaging. Likes babies, rope swings, sun-bathing, painting, eating oranges, singing duets. Dislikes difficult puzzles, wet feet. Prefers outgoing, playful type for friendship, grooming, camaraderie.

In his 32 years in Syracuse, Abe fathered and raised four babies and outlived two mates. He has won thousands of hearts with his spirited personality, great love for babies – human and siamang – and boisterous vocalizations that bring zoo-goers running toward Primate Park to see him put on a show.

But in recent years, Abe found himself single – not a natural condition for siamangs. The largest of the lesser apes, siamangs are social animals that mate for life. If one of a pair dies, the survivor will seek another love interest. That’s why our animal care staff were on a mission to find a match for Abe.

As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), our zoo participates in Species Survival Plans for many endangered species – including siamangs. We asked the siamang SSP to find a female for Abe.

If we imagined his perfect match, her profile might read:
Petite, attractive female siamang seeks mature male companion to share golden years. Laid-back, easygoing, great hair. Enjoys climbing, grooming, hugs, dried fruit, toys, singing duets. Dislikes puddles, wet feet. Prefers affectionate, fun-loving type for company, perhaps romance?

Fatima, 34, fit this description exactly, but she lived 2,000 miles away at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Luckily, the SSP located her in their database and recommended pairing her with Abe.

After Fatima arrived in late 2017, our staff started introductions. At first, Abe tried to get a reaction by beating against the mesh barrier between them – but she was unfazed. By Day 2, they clearly wanted to meet. Soon they were grooming each other through the mesh. I am happy to say they have been a couple ever since. Now they are never more than a few yards apart.

I see their story as one example of many such love stories at the zoo, stories that show how invested our staff is in the health, welfare and, yes, happiness of every single animal in our care.

Your contributions enable us to treat each animal here as an individual personality, a life, a soul. If you would like to support our efforts, you can do so HERE.

My Best,

Janet Agostini
President + CEO
Friends of the Zoo

We are AZA-accredited –again!

In case you haven’t heard the big news, your zoo has once again been accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums! This is a very important achievement, as it means that we remain one of only 232 facilities to be approved as a top-tier institution by AZA.

This seal of approval lets our guests, members and donors know that they are directly supporting a zoo that provides the highest standards of animal care and is actively engaged in wildlife conservation, both locally and globally.

As AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe put it, AZA accreditation is “the gold standard within the zoological profession.”

“By achieving accreditation, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo demonstrates a commitment to protecting animals around the world and inspiring their guests to do the same,” Dan said.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo has been continuously accredited since 1987 through a rigorous process that we go through every five years. This year’s cycle began over 8 months ago, when we submitted records to AZA on everything from animal care and welfare; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; and visitor services.

Then we underwent a three-day inspection by a team of AZA professionals who examined our facility from top to bottom. We also attended an in-person hearing at the recent AZA National Conference in Seattle, where we learned that we are once again accredited through 2023.

I’d like to thank you for your support in making this happen. Every visit you make to the zoo, every purchase from the gift shop or café, every donation you make to one of our fundraisers directly supports wildlife conservation. I’m thrilled to say “We are AZA,” and we couldn’t have done it without you!

My Best,

Janet Agostini
President + CEO
Friends of the Zoo

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums

Animal Enrichment Day

Asian Elephant Siri Enrichment at Syracuse Zoo

Enrichment is an important part of animal welfare, keeping animals in human care mentally and physicall stimulated on a daily basis. Enrichment means giving animals the opportunities and the tools to stimulate their natural behaviors and keep them engaged.

In celebration of National Zoo Keeper Week, our keepers have designated Friday, July 20, 2018 as Enrichment Day, a day when we celebrate all the ways that enrichment and training positively impact our animals’ lives.

Activities will include foraging stations where guests can try to find hidden treats, enrichment stations displaying some of the objects we give to our animals and opportunities to help make enrichment items. Look for our table where you can donate an enrichment item or a monetary contribution to enrichment to be entered in a raffle for a piece of animal art.

Donate to our Enrichment Wish List and BE ENTERED TO WIN a painting by one of our animals!

Enrichment Wish List — New, unused items only, please!

  • Suet feeders — all sizes
  • Slow feeder dog dishes
  • Scents and seasongs, eg. peppermint, almond, vanilla, cat nip, cinnamon, basil.
  • Exo Terra rock dishes — all sizes (PetSmart or Petco)
  • Exo Terra log hides — all sizes (PetSmart or Petco)
  • Boomer Balls (boomerball.com)
  • Gift cards to PetSmart, Petco, Amazon, Wegmans, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
  • Kongs — all sizes
  • Bird/parrot toys

Food items:

  • Cereal — low sugar such as Cheerios, Rice Chex, Quaker Oatmeal Squares, etc.
  • Unsalted nuts (only in a sealed container, no bulk items please)
  • All natural nut butters
  • Low or no sugar applesauce or fruit cups (no syrup)
  • Dried fruit (sealed, no bulk please)
  • Canned corn
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Canned tuna
  • Chicken or beef broth
  • Nutella
  • Popcorn (non-microwave)
  • Baby food
  • Jelly
  • Honey
  • Low sugar juice (all natural)