Thompson Park Zoo and Conservancy E-Newsletter
April 2015

In This Issue
Directors Note
Summer Hours
Zoo Events
Education Programs
Volunteering at the Zoo
Department Wishlists
New Sponshorship-Krafft Cleaning
Goings on in Guest Services

We are open 10am-5pm everyday effective March 30th, 2015.

Admission into the Zoo is:

$9 Adults
$7 Seniors
$6 Kids (3-12)
Kids under 3 are free! 


About Us

The 32-acre Thompson Park Zoo is located in historic Thompson Park in Watertown, NY.  This one-of-a kind zoo exhibits over 100 animals representing 65 species of New York's abundant, threatened or endangered indigenous wildlife.  Further information on all programming, special events, and pricing can be found at our Facebook page ( or by visiting



Dear zoo supporters,


Spring has arrived!  How do I know?  This morning zookeepers watched as our elk Aspen shed his 24 pound antlers onto a patch of snow, which he does each year at the end of winter.  He'll start growing a new pair right away.  Come by the zoo and see if you can see his antler buds!


Many other changes are taking place at the zoo as we continue working on our "8 in 8" program - eight new features that will be completed during an eight week period ending on May 1st.  Here's a sneak peek into some of the new features:


 1.    Wolverines having a nap when you come to visit the zoo?  Not a problem!  A new monitor at their exhibit will show a wolverine-themed video that will interest and amaze you.


2.    Our local youth are the best and brightest, and we want to help celebrate them and reward their achievements.  That's why we're starting a new "Leader of the Pack" program, where teachers and other mentors will be able to nominate youth who go above and beyond to protect animals and natural resources.  Details to follow.


3.    Bats are one of my favorite animals, but they face a number of challenges in the wild, including human disturbances at their winter roosting sites.  To help provide safe homes for all of New York's bats, the zoo is installing new bat houses (made from recycled materials) throughout the zoo.  See if you can spot one on your next visit!


4.    On Saturday, April 25th, the zoo will be hosting an all-new event called Native American Literature Day.  This event, coordinated by Jefferson Community College, is free with zoo admission.  It will include a variety of Native American stories told throughout the day by JCC students, as well as keeper chats from New York State Zoo animal care staff.


In next week's e-newsletter you'll be able to read about the rest of the 8 in 8, and all of the new features will be ready to go on May 1st!  Finally, it is my pleasure to announce the hiring of Kristen Anthony, our new Curator of Conservation and Education.  Kristen is a Boise, ID native, with years of experience in the biological sciences.  This month Kristen has been busy preparing creative and inspirational lessons for this summer's Zoofari camp, and is also the brains behind the new wolverine video.


I'll see you at the zoo!


Matthew Holdgate, Ph.D.

Executive Director






Summer Open Hours
We are now back to our regular seasonal hours, even though the weather hasnt quite got there yet! Everyday, we are now open from 10am-5pm. Stop by and see us. 


Upcoming Zoo Events- Save the Date!


April 18th - Earth Day Celebration and Dollar Day

Co-hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, this event will bring together representatives from scores of different local groups who are all concerned will environmental conservation and community initiatives. Booths will be geared toward both adults and children, so there is something for everyone. Bonus, admission to the Zoo for the day will be $1! More information will be available on our website and Facebook page as we get closer to the event so stay tuned!

April 25th- Native American Storytelling Day

On April 25th, students from Jefferson County Community College will be doing interpretive presentations at some of our animal exhibits to illustrate traditional Native American stories as well as facts about the species on exhibit. In addition to these presentations, keeper chats and other activities will taking place throughout the day.

May 15th- The Wild Golf Tournament

This spring, the Watertown Golf Club at Thompson Park will be hosting a golf tournament to benefit the Zoo. If you have interest in the event either as a sponsor or a participant, please email

Education Programs




Starting to get cabin fever? Get outside and learn some new things this month! Pre-registration is requested, and pre-payment is encouraged to secure your spot at any of these programs. Call 315.755.0895 or email for more information. 



Our Mountain Lion Ninja is one of our most active and playful cats.  Come help us create and place special enrichment items throughout his exhibit and see his playful side for yourself!

April 11th at 10:00am. This program costs $15/person, $40/a family of 4, 20% off for members. Additional family members can be added on to the family packet for a reduced rate. 



Also happening this month-


Wild Tots(ages 3-5)- Friday, April 10th at 10 a.m. in our Classroom. Topic: Earth Day Activities. 


After the Wild Tot's meet some of our Animal Ambassadors, they will get to make special earth day crafts from recycled materials.



Homeschool Academy- Wednesday, April 15th at 1:00 Topic: Earth Day Every Day.

Come learn about ways to help keep our Earth healthy through reducing our environmental footprint, reusing products, and recycling common materials.  There will also be an earth day craft which will use recycled materials to demonstrate how we can turn ordinary trash into treasure.  



Registration is now open for our summer camps! Weekly dates and topics are listed below. Information and registration details can be found on our website here



Session One July 13-17: Water Worlds

Meet the cast of creatures inhabiting our waters including our otters, amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates. Children will learn about special adaptations that allow animals to thrive in aquatic habitats.  We will discuss the need for healthy aquatic ecosystems and major threats to these habitats.

Session Two July 20-24: Feasts for the Beasts 
What is life like at the top of food chain? Campers will learn about the special adaptations of our large carnivores and birds of prey allowing them to be the top predators of the earth and sky.


Session Three July 27-31: Leapers and Creepers
Meet the fascinating creatures lurking behind every corner, from slithering snakes and slimy salamanders to creepy crawly invertebrates. Campers will learn how this elusive cast of characters play important roles in the ecosystem.


Session Four August 3-7: Jr. Biologist 
Walk in the footsteps a wildlife biologist! This week's activities are designed to inspire campers to explore the wildlife around them. Campers will create a field journal and spend the week filling it with observations of the animals we will see on our nature walks.  They will discover how observations and data collection are used to learn about and protect wild species.


Session Five August 10-14: Amazing Animal Kingdom
Campers will meet our Animal Ambassadors from around the animal kingdom and discuss their unique adaptations and lifestyles.  Each day we will cover one major taxa; Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates.  Campers will discover what sets each group apart from the other animal groups.


Session Six August 17-21: Backyard Biology 
Learn about conservation projects you can do at your own home! Activities will build upon camper's sense of wonder about nature and inspire them to think about their impact on our planet.  We will also spend time getting get to know the animals at the farm, and discuss how to care for proper pets while focusing on why wild animals don't make good pets. 




Full Day Session(1 week): 8:00am - 4:00 pm               Member Fee: $128.00       Non Member Fee $160.00

½ Day Session(1 week)  option: 8:00am - 12:00 pm     Member Fee: $68.00        Non Member Fee $85.00


Option to extend the full day to 5:00 for an additional fee $7.50 per day for Members and Non Members.






More information on any of these programs can be found here. Click the education tab to see all our offerings.


If you have anything you would like to see added to our education offerings, or any suggestions please email We are always looking to better serve our community needs!


Volunteering at the Zoo -Transitions with our Program

We want to thank all of our loyal volunteers and welcome anyone interested into the mix during our next volunteer training on May 2nd at 9:00am.

Kristen and Elizabeth are currently at changes to our volunteer program to better mesh with the overall goals of the Zoo as an organization. Changes coming down the line will be a new and updated manual, new training levels, and schedualed opportunities for participants.

Whether you are able to come in once a year or once a week, we always appreciate the help. Our system now allows us to keep accurate count of volunteering hours per person up to date, which can be used for resumes, college applications or military credit as warranted.

If you are interested RSVPing to attend this short orientation, or just have questions please email Elizabeth at or call 315.755.0894


Department Wishlists


A great way to support the Thompson Park Zoo is by donating items that our various departments need. These items have been specifically requested, but we are grateful for any assistance in any form! Please contact us at 315.755.6180 if you have any questions. Thanks for your consideration!



We are in particular need of a UTV, which will help our maintenance and keeper staff immensely.




  • Small Coolers for outreach (hard sided with locking lid)
  • Washable paints and other art supplies
  • Classroom Rug
  • Plastic Toy Animals
  • Safety glasses/goggles

Guest Services

  • Radio Flyer Wagons, double seated.
  • Wheelchairs
  • Wood Pellets
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Scrub Sponges

Animal Care

  • Cardboard
  • Fleece Blanket pieces for bedding
  • Pill Grinders
  • Food Scales
  • Soda Boxes
  • PVC Pipe 
  • Fire hose
  • Newspaper
  • Blankets
  • Hand Warmers
  • Plug in Boot Dryers
  • Gas Powered Pressure Washer
  • Pallet Jack
  • Cordless Dremel
  • Large Boomer Balls


  • Leaf Rakes
  • Snow shovels
  • Square nosed Dirt Shovels

New Sponsorship- Krafft Cleaning

The largest species at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park just received a financial contribution of equally impressive size: Krafft Cleaning Service, Inc., has pledged $5,000 per year for the next three years to sponsor the elk exhibit.

"Elk are so emblematic of the beauty and hardiness of North Country residents, both human and otherwise.  I was thrilled and honored when Krafft Cleaning Service, Inc. chose to sponsor our two elk, Aspen and Rosie," said Matthew Holdgate, executive director.  "These types of sponsorships are crucial to the zoo, especially when purchasing diets for large species like elk, who will eat more than 2,000 pounds of apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, and other produce over the next three years, as well as 500 bales of hay."

Exhibit sponsorships also help to fund veterinary visits and exhibit maintenance, as well as educational initiatives.  The zoo is currently making plans for a new feature at the elk exhibit that will allow visitors to lift weights that match that of the huge antlers carried by bull elk throughout the winter.

Krafft Cleaning Service, Inc., which has served Watertown, NY and Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties for over 40 years, specializes in commercial cleaning services ranging from regularly scheduled custodial work to occasional project work, such as carpet cleaning, tile floor refinishing, and window washing in office buildings and medical facilities.


Goings on in Guest Services   

Looking for that perfect gift for birthdays, graduations or any other event in your life? Our animal adoptions and programs provide  truly special experiences and help us spread awareness of our native species in one grand gesture! Packages are below, and there is one to fit every budget. 


Have someone in your life who has had long held aspirations to work with animals, or would  just love to see the critters up close? Our Become a Zookeeper program is an unique experience that lets someone follow around a keeper here at the Zoo during their morning rotation. This program is scheduled on a case by case basis around your needs, so call 315.755.0894 for more information. The cost is $80/person. 

Animal Adoptions are another unique option!
The adoption form and payment options are available  here . If you loved our animal art on sale last summer, you will love the option to engage in your own animal art experience at the $250 dollar level. 


 $50 Dollar Level-

  • Adoption Certificate, 5x7 Picture of the Animal, Fact Sheet about the animal to go out immediately
  • Name on the website/newsletter as animal parent
  • Monthly report on the animal sent in the mail for three months after the adoption.

$100 Dollar Level-

  • All of the above
  • Certificate for admission to an education department enrichment program for up to 4 people
  • Certificate for 50% off one item in the gift shop

$150 Dollar Level-

  • All of the Above
  • Behind the scenes tour of that animal*

$250 Dollar Level-

  • All of the Above
  • Painting encounter with the animal. This includes watching the animal "create" a masterpiece on canvas that the adoptive parent can take home.*

*Depending on the temperament or current training schedule of the animal, substitutions of animals involved may be required. 


Animals for adoption-

Wolverines ,Grey Wolves, Black Bears,Bobcat,Canada Lynx ,Roosevelt Elk,North American River Otter,Mountain Lion






Thank you to our new Adoptive Parents from since December:


Caitlyn Graves and Jim Scordo- North American River Otters

Sally Cullerton- Canada Lynx

Ryder Donahue- Roosevelt Elk

Cambel Donahue- Black Bears

Jaxon Donahue- Canada Lynx 

Robert Howard- North American River Otters

Kameron Smith- North American River Otters

Amanda Roberts- Bobcats

Billy Brennen- North American River Otters

Henry Brennen- Roosevelt Elk

Gretta Maitag- Black Bear

William Maitag- Mountain Lion

Cameron and Kaden Lee- Black Bear

Heuvelton 1st Grade Classroom- Gray Wolves

The Moncrief Family- Mountain Lion





Feel free to contact us with any questions at
We're here to help you!
The Staff at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park