UTICA – The Utica Zoo is in the midst of a $3.13 million expansion project, and on Thursday the zoo launched its newest campaign, “The Excitement Is Building.”
The campaign follows the “We Don’t Like It Either” fundraising campaign from 2016 that raised enough money to overhaul and expand the White Handed Gibbon exhibit. By this fall, the exhibit will have eight times more space with a 25-foot-high netted area, giving the animals the ability to swing around outside.
With this new campaign, which is the next phase of the “Dream Big” Master Plan, newly designed outdoor “living rainforests” will be built for both the zoo’s White Handed Gibbons and their Spider Monkeys. The next phase of the project will also include significant upgrades and renovations to the interior, roof and visitor viewing and keeper areas.
According to the zoo, these renovations mark the first time since 1988 that this area of the Primate Building will be utilized as public exhibit space.
“Other people can see, the little things that we see behind the scenes is more on display and it’s more educational for the public,” said Pearl Yusaf, director of Animal Operations for the Utica Zoo. “It’s more enlightening for the public. I always want the public to appreciate the animals that we have and I think this helps make people appreciate them more.”
The overall $3.13 million project includes:
-Project Underway: $913,000
-Spider Monkey Exhibit Expansion: $1,116,000
-Interior White Handed Gibbon Exhibit and General Building Improvements: $987,000
-Grand Entrance and Observation Treehouse: $100,000
-New Roof: $20,000
Tune into the NEWSChannel 2 Live at Five Newshour for a closer look at the new space, and to learn why expanding upward is best for these particular animals.