Watertown’s Zoo New York completes 100-year master plan

Butterfly House Thompson Park NYS Zoo

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Zoo New York, located in Watertown’s Thompson Park, has big plans for the next 100 years.

The architectural, engineering, land surveying and construction management firm, GYMO, has completed the master plan for Zoo New York, which includes plans on decision making for the next century.

Zoo New York’s master plan first began in March 2021 when members from GYMO collaborated with the Zoo’s Executive Director Larry Sorel. Priorities in establishing the plan included utilizing and preserving existing resources and strategically building out plans for future development.

“Thompson Park is the most unique resource to our area and the zoo is a large component of that. We
aim to uplift the zoo by using smart planning principles,” Site Development Project Manager Mark Crandall said. “Input from community members and area stakeholders was incorporated. The plan ensures that
future developments are both environmentally sustainable and responsive to public outdoor recreational
and educational needs.”

According to GYMO, one of the plan’s main focuses is re-identifying and enhancing the entrance and exit to the zoo. This will aim to establish a “natural flow” of visitors throughout the property.

Additional updates will include a future outdoor adventure park with zip lines and climbing walls, parking enhancements, and an aquarium and modern animal stable.

New animal exhibits are also included in the plan. Confirmed animals include elk, moose, bison, caribou, black bear, porcupine, owls, wolves, indoor reptiles, bald eagle, turkey vultures and harbor seals. All other species have yet to be determined.

Animal exhibits will also correspond to the New York region in which they are commonly found. Each region will be broken into “zones,” which will include a Pollinator Zone, the Western Grasslands, Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, the Long Island Sound and Lower Hudson River. The Zoo will also include a botanical garden, aviary and saltwater aquarium.

“The plan aligns with providing the highest quality guest experience, along with the highest level of animal
care,” GYMO added.

Zoo New York’s Master Plan was released during the last week of October. The full plan can be found on the Zoo’s website.

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