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

In This Issue
Directors Note
Summer Hours
Otter Dental Day
Zoo Events
Garden Club
Education Programs
Volunteering at the Zoo
Leader of the Pack Program
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,


Where do zoo employees go when they need a break from the animals?  The Sci-Tech Museum of course!  Last week we spent an afternoon exploring the museum on Stone Street in Watertown.  With more than 40 interactive exhibits, there was plenty to see and do.  I clumsily mis-identified scents at the smell station, while a zookeeper left her glowing shadow on a wall in the strobe light room.  Later I tested my morse code skills while another keeper entered a giant kaleidoscope.  We peered into microscopes to see the creatures that inhabit pond water, and then tested our ability to identify bird songs.  On the way out we visited the gift shop for some knick-knacks and a snack.


Our visit to Sci-Tech was the first step in a new partnership between the Zoo and Museum.  How will this affect you?  For starters, experts at Sci-Tech are helping the zoo construct new animal-themed audio and video exhibits to engage zoo visitors.  Our first project will even be solar-powered - how cool is that?  You'll also encounter Sci-Tech in the Zoo's Discovery Center as they bring science-themed displays to the Zoo!  The rumor is that the first Sci-Tech display will be extremely "attractive."


The Zoo is proud to partner with community-based organizations like the Sci-Tech Museum, and we encourage you to give them a visit.


I'll see you at the zoo!


Matthew Holdgate, Ph.D.

Executive Director


The Sci-Tech Museum of Northern New York is a year-round, hands-on museum, with exhibits that appeal to children and adults.  More than 40 interactive exhibits designed to spark the interest and imagination of visitors are offered in our 3,600 sq. ft. facility.  The Museum is open on Fri and Sat this month from 10am-4pm, with expanded hours starting July 1st.  Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children (under 3 are free), with discounts for seniors and families.  Sci-Tech is located at 154 Stone Street and you can contact them at or 315-788-1340.










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.

Watertown Savings Bank-Bear Exhibit Sponsorship





WATERTOWN - May 29, 2015 - The black bears at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park had a chance to smile and say "cheese" during a recent visit from the Watertown Savings Bank.  Zoo staff created a cream cheese display in the bank's signature green to celebrate their $5,000 sponsorship of the bear exhibit.


"Watertown Savings Bank is proud to support the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park," said Meredith Fiorentino, the bank's Business Development Officer.  "Our team at WSB feels as though the Zoo is a wonderful place for families to take their children to learn and to experience the joy of nature. The Zoo hosts many events throughout the year which help to contribute to making Northern New York an exciting place to live. We are looking forward to the upcoming season!"


The zoo's three black bears, Tess, Terra, and Tilly, were eager participants in the event.  They stretched, jumped, and scraped at the window decorated with the cream cheese letters "WSB". 


"Zoos are all about connecting people with animals, and this was about the closest connection I think you would want to make with our bears," said Dr. Matthew Holdgate, the zoo's Executive Director.  "I'm glad the zoo was able to share this experience with our friends at Watertown Savings Bank."


Zoo exhibit sponsorships help to fund animal food, veterinary visits, exhibit maintenance, and educational initiatives.


New York State Zoo Executive Director Matthew Holdgate (left), thanks Watertown Savings Bank Business Development Officer Meredith Fiorentino (right), as the zoo's black bears scramble for a cream-cheese treat.



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!

Remember, all proceeds from concessions directly benefit the Zoo! So come out, enjoy a lovely evening and support your favorite (we hope) non-profit. 

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! 

So get your babysitters lined up now and take the next day off of work, the Zoo is going to be the place to be!

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. 

October 24th and 25th - Boo at the Zoo

Also save the date for our annual Halloween Celebration! If you have any interest in the creative planning of this event or volunteering to man a treat station either of the days please email We would love to have you help and it's so much fun! 


Zoo Garden Club


Our Garden Club members have been working hard to keep our flower beds beautiful! 

The Garden Club consists of all volunteers, who generously give their time and materials to keep the beds here at the Zoo looking their best.

Below are some examples of the fabulous additions to our Zoo grounds.

Guest Services Side Door

Near the Visitors Center

Wolf Viewing 

Interested in having your own bed and being part of the garden club? It's not too late to stake your claim for the summer! Email Lesley@nyszoo to get more details. 

Education Programs




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. 



Did you know that Fishers love to snack on porcupines? This member of the weasel family is one of few species that try to take on the prickliest member of the New York ecosystems. On June 13th at 10 am, prepare non-porcupine treats for our fisher friend Wilma at Feast for the Fisher . 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

June 17, 1:00pm-2:30pm  - Big Cats


This months program will focus on North American Large Cats. What is the difference between the cats we have here at the Zoo? How do these predators live in an increasingly urbanized world? What other large cats prowl the different areas of the world? Learn this and more!



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!


Volunteering at the Zoo -Transitions with our Program

Above: Volunteer Corey shows off our Bearded Dragon at Mountain Community Homes Earth Day Event

We want to thank all of our loyal volunteers and welcome anyone interested into the mix during our next volunteer training on June 6th at 9:00am.

Kristen and Elizabeth are currently working 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 scheduled 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 315.755.0896

If you would like to be added to our volunteer newsletter email list, please let Elizabeth know also. 


Leader of the Pack Program

Do you know a young person who has gone above and beyond to make the community or environment a better place? The New York State Zoo's new Leader of the Pack program is the perfect opportunity to recognize North Country youth and youth groups who have met "the call of the wild" and made a difference. Did someone in your community start a recycling program? Does a young person you know selflessly give their time to a cause, and do they try to inspire others to do the same? 

Teachers, coaches, and mentors are invited to nominate a young person or group by filling out the nomination form here. Nominees must be between 8 and 18 years old and be residents of Jefferson, Lewis, or St. Lawrence counties. Nomination forms and questions about the program can be sent to . Nominations will be accepted through September 30th, 2015. Zoo staff will review submissions and contact the "Leaders" starting in October 2015.




The "pack" of pups from spring 2014 here at the Zoo.


Goings on in Guest Services   

June marks the beginning of our seasonal sales in our Gift Shop! Pick up your favorite something to remind you of your great visits to the Zoo or to gift to your favorite people.

June 1 - 7: 15% off anything with a Butterfly on it. 


June 8 - 14: 15% Biodiversity is Us line of plush toys.


June 15 - 21: 15% off exotic plush (not including biodiversity plush).


June 22 - 28: 15% off educational toys (wooden play sets, binoculars, bookmarks, hex blocks, adventure sets, reading lights).


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





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

Did you know that Amazon has a way to give back to your favorite charities? Registered 501c3 non-profit organizations qualify for the program, called Amazon Smile, that gives .5% of each transaction to the organization of the buyers choice. We are listed as Thompson Park Conservancy Inc. Check it out!


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