Update: The Animal Health Center is about to open and will strengthen animal care at the zoo

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – The Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s new Animal Health Center is closing in on opening, despite supply chain issues pushing them past their original target date.

Zoo director Ted Fox says they are in their final hours and should hopefully open in December.

It’s come a long way since August, when NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla first took us inside the empty building.

Now filled with machinery and equipment, the new facility will take the operation and mission of the zoo to the next level.

For starters, the new facility is much larger than their current one-room clinic.

The animal care team will now have an imaging room, treatment room, operating room, pharmacy, research lab and children’s clinic … to name a few.

The x-ray machine in the imaging room is designed in such a way that they can x-ray any animal, regardless of size.

That alone will be huge. Right now, depending on the size of the animal, it’s a bit of a process.

“We go out, we take the image, we run back, we process the image, we have the x-ray, we can take pictures of it or physically ask someone to x-ray it at Cornell,” said Fox.

From now on, they will be able to do everything in the room, rather than in an animal exhibition.

It’s a win-win for the zoo and its longstanding partnership with Cornell. For years, students and veterinarians have worked with animals in Syracuse.

With the expansion, more students and staff will be able to be physically present in the room when an animal is being treated.

The Imaging Room is one of those behind-the-scenes updates. What visitors to the zoo will see from the lobby is the kitchen, treatment room, operating room, research lab, and a children’s clinic where kids can be vets for a day.

Visitors will also be able to observe surgeries and procedures through the windows of each room, but they will also be able to see things up close. Every procedure light in operating and treatment rooms has a camera in the middle.

Now we bring one of the things that takes 70 to 80 [percent] of each of our days as animal care people at the forefront of what we do here at the zoo.

Ted Fox

Another new aspect of the health center is a necropsy room.

Currently, animals are sent to Cornell after passing through. Having a clinic on this campus will help staff know what happened to the animal so they can help it and its species in the future.

“They are [Cornell researchers] always banking information to save species, not only in zoos but all the species that we have, you know, are also wild populations.

The entire facility was designed with the zoo’s mission in mind.

“It’s not just about exhibiting animals, having fun and watching them. It’s all about the care taken in caring for every animal that lives here.


The hope is that the establishment will open in December.

Benjamin M. Yerger