Thompson Park Zoo and Conservancy E-Newsletter
February 2015

In This Issue
Modified Winter Hours
Goings on in Guest Services
Zoo Events
Education Programs
Birthday Parties
Department Wishlists
2014 in Review

We are open modified hours for the winter months, November-February

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





I have been fortunate enough to have a year-long valentine- being at the New York State Zoo, the only zoo devoted to native species found in this state.  Add to that the happiness of being in some part of fabulous Thompson Park almost every day this past year.  My recommendation to you is to make this same experience your year-long valentine for 2015.


Annual Zoo membership is the answer to making this happen for you and your family.  The months of February and March are Zoo Membership Months with the added bonus of $5.00 off in every category of membership and a total of a $10.00 discount if you are part of the military.  There is a level to fit everyone's needs and pocketbook.  This year, for the first time, there will be a Member's Only Evening at the Zoo with low-cost refreshments, music and a chance to visit the animals at dusk.  Members also receive discounts for some events, shopping in the Gift Shop and Caf´┐Ż, education programming and Birthday Parties.


Month number four of snow and cold is upon us.  But we Northern New Yorkers are a tough and hearty lot-and so are our native New York animal species.  This is a great time of year to learn about the animals in our Zoo.  What do you know of the Roosevelt Elk, the Grey wolf or the North American River Otter?  How about frogs and butterflies?  What animals winter in the north and what go deeper into the south?  Once, several hundred years ago, all of Northern New York including the St. Lawrence River was a pristine summer hunting ground for Native American tribes. Imagine Watertown or Lowville or Clayton before it was at all settled.  What animals existed then and what animals exist now?


Our new permanent executive director, Matt Holdgate, takes the reins on Monday, March 2.  With Matt at the helm, the Zoo is going to make enormous strides and you will want to be a part of it all.  Our 2015 Plan of Work is in place allowing us to better respond to the needs of our visitors, our staff and community events.  Look for Matt's first report to the community in the March e-newsletter.

This is a good time for me to once again say thank you to the Zoo staff and board of directors; the employees of the City of Watertown, the JCC Zoo Tech Program faculty and staff, the Zoo Docents and volunteers, donors and sponsors and you, the Zoo members and friends.  It has been a gift not to be missed.  Make it yours as well.


Jayn Graves


For the Thompson Park Conservancy, Inc.





Modified Winter Hours
This winter we will be changing from previous years "off-season" schedule. We will be open the first Saturday of the month only for general admission, though all education programs and birthday parties will still be going on as normal. 

Our last open Saturday under this schedule will be February 7th, when we will be open from 11am-3pm.

Starting March 1st, we will be open daily as we begin to resume our normal in season schedule. The hours for the month of March are also 11am-3pm.

If you have any questions about the schedule, feel free to contact us at

Goings on in Guest Services  

Have a special someone that loves animals? Get them 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. 



Has your love 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






Upcoming Zoo Events


Guinea Hogs Day

As many may know, our traditional groundhogs day in this country was derived from a day celebrating hedgehogs. In our own twist, we are going to inquire the future weather of the North Country from our Guinea hogs Jack and Jill. Will there be more snow or have we seen the worst of winter? Find out during this alternative celebration after that rodent in Punxsutawney has his say. This program is starting at 11am on February 7th and participation is free with admission. 

Also on Saturday,Hope Marston will be doing a reading and signing of her books in the Guest Services Building. Ms. Marston is a local author that writes many of the books found in our gift shop. Come in and see her at noon for this free event!

Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust

Our friends at Tug Hill are hosting additional snowshoeing activities this month. Please see the details below:

"Join us on Sunday, February 15th at 1:00pm as we explore another one of our protected properties located in West Turin.  Landowners, Al and Barb Weiman will lead us on a three part excursion over the hills and through the woods.  The tour ends with a beautiful view of the West Branch of Fish Creek.  Difficulty level is moderate with some uphill hiking.  Once the snowshoe is done everyone is invited to warm up by the fire.  Hot chocolate and a snack will be provided.


For directions or to RSVP, for any or all of the following please visit, email or call (315) 779-2239.  Please note that snowshoes will become hikes in the event that three is not enough snow.  All outings are free of charge.  Just bring water, appropriate clothing, and snowshoes (we do have a limited number of snowshoes available to lend, both child and adult sizes).  Must call ahead or email to reserve. "


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 315.755.0894 or email for more information. 


Our Wolverines are celebrating their birthdays this month! Our enrichment program on Saturday, February 14th, is our way of celebrating with them and providing them some special treats. Wolverine enrichment will be taking place at 10 am. Participants will be making treats for Valentine and Stinky and will then get to watch them devour the fruits of our labor! $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, February 6th at 10 a.m. in our Classroom. Topic: Animals in Love

Junior Animal Keeper- Thursday, February 12th at 4:00 Topic: Birds

Zoo Sleuths- Sunday, February 15th at 10am Topic: Love is in the Air

Homeschool Academy- Wednesday, February 25th at 1:00 Topic: Birds


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!


Birthday Parties at the Zoo

Calling all party animals! Looking for an indoor venue for that winter birthday party or just want to take it to a wilder level? Let us host your next birthday party and enjoy a fun, stress-free day of celebrating. With a wide range of party options, it's sure to be a good time. 

The best part? We are available to do the ordering, entertaining and clean-up if you want us to! For all party options, please look at our current pricing here. If you are interested in booking a party or need to check up on date availability call 315.782.6180.

Parties are already being booked for this summer, so call soon to get the date you want!
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!


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

Guest Services

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

Animal Care

  • Hard Boomer Balls
  • Pill Grinders
  • Food Scales
  • Soda Boxes
  • PVC Pipe 
  • Firehose
  • Newspaper
  • Blankets
  • Hand Warmers
  • Plug in Boot Dryers
  • Gas Powered Pressure Washer
  • Pallet Jack
  • Cordless Dremel


  • Leaf Rakes
  • Snow shovels
  • Square nosed Dirt Shovels

Volunteering at the Zoo

Volunteer orientation for this month will be held on Saturday, February 14th at 9:00 am. Those interested in volunteering can come expecting a short introduction into the different departments here at the Zoo and opportunities within those departments. 

Future volunteer trainings will be held the first Saturday of the month at 9am for the rest of 2015.

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


A HUGE Thanks!



Thank you to Jake's Lawn Care for all their help this year with our grounds! We very much appreciate it. 


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