Asian Elephant Extravaganza

Syracuse Zoo Asian Elephant Extravaganza Karina

Asian Elephant Extravaganza celebrates Asian culture and 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 demonstrations at the Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve, education stations with elephant biofacts, information about the significance of elephants in Asian culture as well as performances of music, dance and artwork from Thailand, Bali, India and other South Asian countries. This event also features games and an elephant art raffle!

Events take place at the Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve unless otherwise noted

*Listen to zoo announcements for location
Subject to change, weather permitting


10:15 a.m. – Siri the Asian Elephant inaugurates the new Elephant Crossing

10:30 a.m. – Performance by the Buffalo Gamelan Club — Javanese percussion ensemble

10:45 a.m. – Painting enrichment with Siri the elephant artist

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

11:30 a.m. – Sound Journey with Helena Zera
Yoga practitioner Helena Zera plays a crystal lyre and Tibetan singing bowls to take elephants and people on a half-hour Sound Journey, a meditative experience guided by tones and vibrations.

Noon – Elephant watermelon smash

12:30 p.m. – Gamelan music performance

12:45 p.m. – Elephant tunnel keeper talk – See elephants use their new tunnel!

1 p.m. – Bollywood ZOOmba dancing – come join in the fun!

1:30 p.m. – Gamelan music performance

2 p.m. – Spotlight on elephant foot care and training with Romani

2:30 p.m. – Gamelan music performance

3 p.m. – Raffle drawing winner announced; elephants receive a big ice treat!

In partnership with the Syracuse University South Asia Center.

CNYArts LogoThis project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.

World Elephant Day

Syracuse Zoo RGZ Asian Elephant

Join us in observing World Elephant Day with some special keeper chats and elephant enrichment activities at Asian Elephant Preserve! Check the schedule in the zoo lobby on arrival.

2019 World Elephant Day Support Logo

World Oceans Day

Syracuse Zoo RGZ World Oceans Day

Join us in observing World Oceans Day, a day to appreciate our oceans and marine life!

The zoo will have keeper chats and animal demonstrations featuring marine animals, as well as activities and information about ocean creatures.

*Listen to zoo announcements for location


10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Zoo Guides
Seafood Watch table in upper lobby
Octopus Zoopardy at Explorer’s PlaySpace

11 a.m. – Octopus Keeper Chat
Octopus Exhibit

12:30 p.m. – Plastics Pollution and Our Oceans
USS Antiquities Cave

1:30 p.m. – Reef Tank Fish Feeding
USS Antiquities Cave

2:30 p.m. – Penguin Keeper Chat
Penguin Coast

3:30 p.m. – Aquarium Keeper Chat
USS Antiquities Cave

Family Volunteer Cleanup Day

Syracuse Zoo RGZ Family Volunteer Cleanup Day AZA

Bring the family to participate in a volunteer cleanup of the Burnet Park side of the zoo’s perimeter. This event is designed for families of all ages to demonstrate community volunteerism. The first 200 participants who sign up and show up the day of the event will receive a free native plant. Those who post a photo showing they planted their plant by Memorial Day — tagging @syracusezoo with hashtag #SpringIntoAction – will be entered in a drawing for a special keeper chat at the zoo. Drinks and snacks will be provided at the end of the cleanup, and the first 100 people who registered will receive wristbands for free admission to the zoo the day of the event.

Registration is required; Click here to register

Participants are encouraged to visit the zoo and attend special Endangered Species Day Keeper chats and other activities.

Schedule for Family Cleanup and Endangered Species Day 

9 a.m. – Family Volunteer Cleanup participants report for cleanup in front of the zoo entrance.

9-11 a.m. – Volunteer Cleanup participants help with litter pickup on the Burnet Park side of the zoo perimeter.

11 a.m. – Drinks and snacks for cleanup participants.

11:30 a.m. – Endangered Species Keeper Chat: Ruffed lemurs
Social Animals Building

Noon- 3 p.m. – Zoo Curiosity Carts, Seafood Watch, Snailblazers in zoo lobby.

12:30 p.m. – Endangered Species Keeper Chat: Radiated tortoise
Diversity of Birds exhibit

1 p.m. – Endangered Species Keeper Chat: Humboldt penguin
Penguin Coast

1:30 p.m. – Meet a locally endangered animal: Eastern box turtle
Upper lobby

2 p.m. – Endangered Species Keeper Chat: Red panda
Wildlife Trail

2:30 p.m. – Endangered Species Keeper Chat: Bactrian camels
Northwestern Mutual Animal Encounter

3 p.m. – Bird Feeding
Diversity of Birds exhibit

The events are part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Spring into Action campaign, which leverages the resources of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to offer family-friendly opportunities to improve and protect our planet.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is among 233 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), which requires its members to meet the highest standards of animal care, wildlife conservation, education and guest experience.

AZA provided grants for 50 of its institutions to hold volunteer activities for the Spring into Action Campaign. The grant allowed the Syracuse zoo to purchase 200 native plants for the first 200 participants in the May 18 cleanup.

Party for the Planet

Party for the Planet Syracuse Zoo RGZ Earth Day

Presented by Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in partnership with Greening USA

Greening USA

Learn about our efforts to sustain biodiversity and see how you and your family can make a difference.

Enjoy eco-friendly activities and giveaways as well as information on how you can help Planet Earth.

Visit “green” activity stations representing Seafood Watch, Save the Rain, Cornell Master Naturalists and many more!

Chat with zoo staff at animal demonstrations featuring some of the zoo’s resident endangered species

Learn about the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program and earn an endangered species trading card.

Engage in nature play at Explorer’s PlaySpace and receive a magnifier for examining bugs and flowers.

Make your own pollinator seed ball to plant in your yard to attract butterflies!

Attend mini-tours and demos about animals and conservation at the zoo!

10:30 a.m. – Sharing Space with Snakes
Upper Lobby

11 a.m. – Ocean Pollution Plastics
USS Antiquities Cave

11:30 a.m. – Guided Green Tour*
Meet at the Gazebo

Noon – The Dirt on Decomposers
Upper Lobby

1:30 p.m. – Mythbusters: Bats!

2 p.m. – Species at Risk Talk: Red Wolf
Lion Corridor

2:30 p.m. – Camel Talk*
Northwestern Mutual Animal Encounter

3 p.m. – Ask an Educator!

Schedule subject to change
*Outdoor activities are weather-dependent. Announcements 5-10 minutes prior to activity will confirm occurrence.

Party for the Planet Spring into Action AZA Syracuse Zoo

Family Volunteer Cleanup Day
Sunday, May 18, 2019 | 9 – 11 a.m.

Registration is required; Click here to register or sign up at Party for the Planet.

Bring the family to participate in a volunteer cleanup of the Burnet Park side of the zoo’s perimeter. This event is designed for families of all ages to demonstrate community volunteerism. The first 200 participants who sign up and show up the day of the event will receive a free native plant. If you submit a picture showing that you planted your plant, you will be entered to win a special keeper talk at the zoo. Drinks and snacks will be provided at the end of the cleanup, and the first 100 people who registered will receive wristbands for free admission to the zoo the day of the event.


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 (
  • 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)