Thompson Park Zoo and Conservancy E-Newsletter
January 2015

Zoo's e-newsletter presented by:
In This Issue
Modified Winter Hours
Zoo Events
Education Programs
Goings on in Guest Services
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




A whole new year awaits.  Everyone gets to start fresh again, resolutions or not.  We know that this is going to be an exciting year for the Zoo with our new executive director, Matt Holdgate, coming on board.  And we are planning a dynamic series of activities and events for you to enjoy every single time you visit. What better start to 2015 could anyone ask?


Our Winter Animal Adoption program is in full swing.  This form of adoption is the heart and soul of active animal conservation.  Our New York State native species animals are here as teachers for their cousins in the wild and we have a lot to learn from them.  When you adopt one of these magnificent creatures, you are helping in their care and enrichment.  I gave one as a New Year's gift to my family and everyone feels a special connection to "their" Zoo animal.  You can too.


We will be open (let the weather cooperate, please) on Saturday, January 3 and this coming Sunday, January 4 with a special event, a Snow Animal Building Contest on the Zoo's front lawn to kick off Snowtown 2015.  Individuals, families and friends welcome to participate.  Prizes of course!


Underwriting for the Zoo's general operation and Special Events is important to the organization's financial sustainability.  Unlike many zoos, we do not receive extensive municipal or government funding, so we must rely on the community for continuing support.  Whether you are an employee of a large business or part of a small business, we would be happy to explore with you an appropriate underwriting opportunity.  Please contact us this month (or Corporate Giving catalog is available as a pdf. File) because we go to print next month with our first annual pull-out Zoo 2015 Calendar.


January is a month to be outside and enjoying the Park in all its winter glory.  Remember, we will be open the first Saturday of each month for General Admission.  Stay in good touch.  There is a lot going on here at the Zoo.


Jayn Graves


Interim Executive Director



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. 

The modified schedule is as follows, each day we will be open 11am-3pm:

January 3rd (We will also be open for general admission on the 4th for the Snowtown USA activities)
February 7th

Normal business hours will resume in early March. If you have any questions about the schedule, feel free to contact us at


Upcoming Zoo Events


SnowTown USA

While the weather looks rather snowy for the Thompson Park day of Snowtown USA, there is still a lot going on in Watertown for this festival. For more information for all the events can be found here

January 4th is Thompson Park Day, with many activities in the park from 11-2. The Zoo will be hosting a snow animal building contest (weather permitting of course) and a reading and book signing from local author Hope Marston from her book Eye on the Iditarod at 1 pm.  

Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust

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

Bring your friends and family and join Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust on Saturday, January 17th for a snowshoe hike at the Joseph A. Blake, Jr. Wildlife Sanctuary in Rutland.


Deer, fox, bobcats and porcupines are a few of the animals that call the Wildlife Sanctuary home.  As we wander through the woods we will search for signs of these inhabitants. Great for all ages and ability levels, this easy to moderate 1.5-2 mile tour of the property is the perfect chance to get out and explore nature.          


We will be meeting at the Joseph A. Blake, Jr. Wildlife Sanctuary parking area located on Middle Road at 10am.


Also happening in January, Bob and Carol Keller will lead us on an easy to moderate two mile tour of their Boonville property on Saturday, January 31st.  The property serves as an important corridor for wildlife traveling between Tug Hill and the Adirondack Park.  After the snowshoe everyone is invited back to the house to warm up and enjoy a snack.      


We will be meeting at the Keller residence located at 3626 Moose River Road just east of the Pines and Joslin intersection at 10am


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




Start your year off right with some fun new education programs from the zoo! 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. 


This Saturday, January 3rd enrichment for our elk Aspen (Pictured above with Keeper Tyler, who is about 6 foot tall himself, for reference) and Rosie. This enrichment is particularly special as we integrate donated Christmas trees into the elk exhibit for the day. If you are interested in donating your Christmas tree, please drop it off at the zoo sometime this week during normal business hours or bring it Saturday morning. The enrichment program will be starting at our pavilion inside the zoo at 10am. There is a charge for participation which can be paid the morning of the event. 


Junior animal keeper, our program where kids can try out their skills at taking care of some of our smaller residents, will be held on Thursday January 15th at 4:00 p.m. This month Nick(pictured below helping our bear Tess with some creative painting projects) will be assisting the youngsters in the upkeep of our amphibian and invertebrate populations. This is sure to be an entertaining and informative program for attendees. 


Our preschool program, Wild Tots, will be taking place Friday, January 16th at 10:00am. This program will have a winter theme this month focusing on local wildlife snow tracts and snowy owls. 


On Sunday the 18th, our own myth-busting program Zoo Sleuths will be looking into some myths of winter. Do birds all fly south in the winter? Do bears hibernate? Is your head where you loose most of your heat outdoors? These questions and more will be answered though observation and experimentation! This program is intended for children in grades 3-6 and starts at 10 am. 


Our home school series continues this month with the topic of amphibians and invertebrates. The program will be held two separate days, either the 21st or the 23rd from 1:00-2:30. Please note that each days program will be the same. 


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!


Goings on in Guest Services  



Winter Animal Adoption Packets


Thank you to our new Adoptive Parents from 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


Have you considered an animal adoption for a birthday or special event? We have restructured our adoption program, and are offering winter adoptions. The adoption form and payment options are available here. If you loved our animal art on sale earlier this 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


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.
Department Wishlists


Looking at the coming winter and into the spring, there are many items that we could use at the zoo. 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!



  • 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
  • Large Boxes
  • Hard Boomer Balls
  • Toilet paper and Paper Towel Center Cardboard Rolls
  • Soda Boxes
  • PVC Pipe 
  • Firehose
  • Newspaper
  • Blankets
  • Hand Warmers
  • Plug in Boot Dryers
  • Leaf Rakes
  • Snow shovels
  • Square nosed Dirt Shovels

2014 in Review

Looking back on 2014 we had some very exciting additions to our zoo family! Take a peek at some of our babies growing over the year.

Otter Pups: Born in February of this year, these pups are just as big as their parents now.


Later this Summer: 

Photo credit: Amber Legras

Wolf Pups: Born this April, this litter was the third for our Gray Wolves Keenai and Kaja. Most of these babies have since been placed at other Zoos. The genetics of our wolves are different from many others in captivity, so they are in high demand. 


Photo credit: Amber Legras


Photo credit: Nick Stacey

Bobkitten: This year we also acquired a bobcat kitten named Pandora. Pandora was found in the wild in Tennessee as a kitten and unable to remain in the wild. She now alternates days on exhibit with our long time resident Bobcat Shadow. As female bobcats are not found together in the wild due to territorial reasons once they are adults, they will remain in rotation. 



Photo credit: Nick Stacey

Black Bears: Other exciting additions this summer were our two new black bears, Terra and Tilly. Rescued as cubs in Montana, these bears were sent to us to be integrated into our current exhibit with our lone resident Tess. This November, the three were introduced and they have been cuddled up together for the winter ever since.


Picture Credit: NNYLiving Magazine

With such an exciting year behind us, who wouldn't be ready to see what 2015 will bring?

P.S. Don't forget to support your local non-profits in the New Year! Here is our Zoo staff at the Watertown Urban Mission dropping off some food stuffs before the December holidays. Non-profits stick together!


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