Year-End Message from Executive Director Andria Heath

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Utica Zoo! We wish you and yours peace, joy, and great health this holiday season and a prosperous 2021! We are thankful for so much this year and we hope that we were able to bring some light into your life as an escape from an overall difficult year.

Please see below for a year-end message from Executive Director Andria Heath:

Hello, Friends!

The Utica Zoo, like many, has experienced our share of highs and lows during this 2020 COVID19-impacted year. We may all get weary of focusing on the negative but we are elated to boast about the joyful moments as well. Despite COVID19, we had the following successes:


  • The Utica Zoo provided virtual, on-line educational and conservation-focused programs accompanied by our ambassador animals to hundreds of children and families around the US! Within days of our region closing down, our team launched a dynamic program that teachers and parents alike could utilize. On-going website tools accompanied each day’s curriculum.  
  • Call of the Wild was developed to bring our animals literally into a zoom-type window of on-line meetings, family gatherings, corporate after-hours parties, etc!
  • Wine in the Virtual and Brewfest gift boxes were embraced by those who would have loved to attend the event in person but supported our creative replacements.  
  • In August, 3 female African Painted Dogs were welcomed into our collection and were wholeheartedly greeted by zoo visitors! 
  • Even at this year-end, we introduced Bright Nights with over a dozen jumbo light exhibits, a safe chat with Santa, 250+ letters to Santa which were personally answered & returned via mail, and many of the holiday trimmings that create lasting memories.


As an urban forest located right in the middle of our great city, we have strived to provide a safe, educational, and fun escape from the everyday routine. Research has supported the notion that getting outside, walking/exercising, laughing, and creating family fun and memories is a boost to our mental and physical health. The exotic and domestic animals who call the Utica Zoo home provide a great source of delight to our community and our staff! It is especially rewarding to have strong relationships with local wildlife rehabbers and accept injured and orphaned animals into our care. With our AZA partners through Species Survival Plans, we help ensure the sustainability of vulnerable animal species from around the world. 


COVID19 restrictions and the 107-day closure prohibited us from meeting our operational revenue goals via visitors’ admission and membership revenue, sales in our unique gift shop, education programs, animal encounters, special events, and more. Yet, the required expenses of animal food/vitamins, veterinary and staff care, and utilities did not diminish while we were closed; in some instances, those costs increased. Overall, we found our budget to be short over $1 Million in operational revenue.


As we gratefully wrap up 2020, we are asking for your financial support with a tax-deductible, year-end gift of any size. You can be assured all contributions received will be used locally and on essential needs to care for the animals. Gifts may be given at, or by mailing a check to 1 Utica Zoo Way, Utica, NY 13501.


You can tangibly see the difference your gift will make any time you visit the zoo, watch our 24-hour coverage of the Utica Zoo’s Cotton-top tamarin trio through the webcam found at, or enjoy the photos and videos regularly posted on the zoo’s social media. As always, I enjoy talking with our supporters; feel free to reach out to me personally at to ask anything about the Utica Zoo today or the plans for the future.


As a tight-knit community, we care about our Utica Zoo family….while visiting the zoo we will continue to require masks and social distancing. Please take care of yourself and those you love and we look forward to resuming all Utica Zoo activities when permitted! On behalf of the Utica Zoo board and staff team, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a bright new year!


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