New York State Zoo at Thompson Park  E-Newsletter
July 2015

In This Issue
Directors Note
Summer Hours
Zoo Events
Dollar Day
Education Programs
Goings on in Guest Services
Department Wishlists
One Last Note...

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,


You might think zoos are only about animals, but we actually play a much larger role in the community.  For example, the NYS Zoo visits schools and farmer's markets, hosts Eagle Scout projects, plans diverse events from golf tournaments to birthday parties, and runs a Zoofari Summer Camp.  Yet one group of community members is notoriously difficult to engage with - teenagers!


To better serve our local teenagers, the zoo has re-invented our ZooTeens volunteer program.  Make no mistake - the ZooTeens program is a real-world learning experience.  ZooTeens receive training, conservation education and mentoring by zoo professionals.  They are responsible for arriving in uniform and ready to work, and completing at least two work shifts per week.  They present animals to visitors, manage our petting farm, assist with Zoofari, and educate the public at the butterfly house and other exhibits.  High performing teens can even become "team leaders" who help mentor younger ZooTeens or "specialists" who work more closely in specific areas of the zoo.  Recently the teens completed their training week with ZooTeens Coordinator Amanda Paddock and myself; we are thrilled to have such a good-natured and enthusiastic group.


As a supervisor for the Oregon Zoo's award-winning ZooTeens program in 2012 and 2013, I personally saw the power of programs like this.  I watched teens mature and develop, building confidence and forming friendships to support them through those difficult teenage years.  I know the community shares my excitement for this program, and I'd like to thank Community Bank and McEvoy Insurance for sponsoring the program and making it a reality.  We couldn't have done it without you!


Welcome 2015 ZooTeens!


Matthew Holdgate, Ph.D.

Executive Director







Summer Open Hours
We are now back to our regular seasonal hours! Everyday, we are now open from 10am-5pm. Stop by and see us! Lots of exciting changes are happening around the Zoo in the coming months, be sure to check it all out.

Zoo Events

Upcoming-Save the Date!

July 2nd - Fireworks in the Park with the Orchestra of Northern New York
Join us for the annual Fireworks up here in Thompson Park. Always a majestic display, this years theme from the Orchestra is "ONNY Goes to the Movies" See their description below:

Celebrate July 4th, a salute to our veterans, anniversaries for the end of WW II and the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and great music from the movies! The Concert includes such July 4th favorites as American Salute,The Battle Hymn of the Republic , the 1812 Overture Stars and Stripes Forever  and selections from such movie soundtracks as Titanic The Wizard of Oz Raiders of the Lost Ark Star Wars Lord of the Rings and MORE!

The concessions offerings for the evening will be as follows:

Cheeseburger/Hamburger, Hot Dog, Popcorn, Chips, Cotton Candy, Water, Variety of Soda, Dippin Dots and Popsicles. This year we will be taking cards and cash for your convenience.

See you on the hill!

July 31st and August 1st - Brew at the Zoo and Wine too!

Save the Date for our 8th Annual Brew at the Zoo event. We have a lot of new and exciting changes for this years event which we will be sharing between now and then. We will also be posting a list of participating businesses ahead of time, so you can see all the variety to anticipate before you even get here for the evening! 

Tickets are now on sale online here and will be on sale at guest services in early July. Presales will be cutoff July 30th. 

If you are interested in volunteering for this event on one of the nights and partaking in the other we are offering volunteers severely discounted tickets and t-shirts. All that is required is a volunteer meeting before the event and a few hours of your time. If you are interested, please email to be placed on the potential volunteer email list. 


Education Programs



Wolves in the grass

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. 



Villianized in fairy tales and folk lore, the wolf has done little to deserve its reputation. Come check out our
 wonderful wolves Kaja and Kenai and two of their pups from their litter from last year in our Wandering with Wolves 
program.  Part of our  monthly  enrichment program series, 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-

Homeschool Academy

July 15th- 1pm  Butterflies and other Arthropods.


This months homeschool program focuses on one of our most popular attractions, our butterfly house! Come learn everything there is to know about these arthropods, spend some time observing in the Butterfly House. 


Wild Tots 

July 3rd- 10am   Animal Families


This months program for toddlers focuses on how animals structure their families, and how cute animal babies are. With a short lesson and a craft, this program is perfect for those 5 and younger. 



Zoofari Summer Camp 




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

? 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!


Goings on in Guest Services   

July continues our sales madness with even more deals! Pick up your favorite something to remind you of your great visits to the Zoo or to gift to your favorite people.

July 6th-12th: 15% All NYS Zoo named merchandise, excluding apparel. (postcards, magnets, key chains, patches, note cards, mugs and shot glasses)


July 13th-19th: 15% off all Apparel


July 20th- 26th: 15% off Plastic Toys (non-plush) 


July 27th-31st : 15% off Charms and Trinkets (will be designated in the gift shop) 


Check out all the neat new offerings for this summer while you are in. We've diversified and there really is something for everyone! All revenue from our gift shop sales directly benefits the Zoo. 


Animal Adoption Program 


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
Mark Peterson- Black Bear

Adams Free Library- Bobcat
Gabrielle Mincer- Gray Wolf

Kai Kyle Cahoon- Gray Wolf





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 315.782.6180 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
  • Saftey glasses/goggles

Guest Services

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

Animal Care

  • Hard Boomer Balls
  • 5 Gallon Buckets
  • Unseasoned Venison
  • Beef rib bones
  • Food Scales
  • Water Cooler bottles
  • PVC Pipe 
  • Firehose
  • Non toxic bubbles
  • Hand Warmers
  • Plug in Boot Dryers
  • Gas Powered Pressure Washer
  • Pallet Jack
  • Cordless Dremel
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • sauna tubes
  • Plastic barrels
  • Ox tails
  • Cake pans
  • Jello molds (big)


  • Leaf Rakes
  • UTV
  • Snow shovels
  • Square nosed Dirt Shovels



One Last Thing

Our annual blood drive through the Red Cross is Sunday, July 5th. Participants donating will receive a red cross hat as well as admission to the Zoo for the day. Appointments can be made on the Red Cross Website here (Just enter our Zip Code 13601 and find us on the list). The drive is 75% full of appointments as of this morning, and  we would love to have it scheduled full before the weekend. Sign up today!


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