Last Thursday reached a low of two degrees Fahrenheit. So, a zoo is last place you’d expect to remain open this time of year. But Seneca Park Zoo is open rain or shine almost all days of the year.
Winter is the low season for Seneca Park Zoo, but plenty of animals are out and about in the snow. If you don’t mind taking an Uber or waiting for the RTS bus to arrive, then the Zoo is a fun, offbeat weekend diversion.
Located in the eponymous Seneca Park near Irondequoit, the Zoo houses more than 90 types of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and the like. Some of the most popular exhibits include the newest additions to the zoo, like the Masai giraffe, as well as long-standing favorites like the big cat and elephant exhibits. All the animals are collected via the American Zoo Association’s Species Survival Program, according to Mina Johnson, a spokesperson for the Zoo.
The Zoo has fewer visitors and shorter opening hours in the winter, but offers a lower ticket price to students at $10. The lack of crowds makes it a great place for a wintertime stroll, as the long stretches of peace and quiet are punctuated by the sight of exotic animals.
Some of the animals, like the red panda and the snow leopard, are right at home in the cold. “Almost all the animals have access to the indoor and outdoor areas of their habitat,” Johnson said. “Many of the African species enjoy being out in the snow. It’s a new environment for them, so it’s very enriching.”
UR has been plenty involved with the Zoo over the years, despite the lack of University shuttle service. Fraternities have volunteered there, and UR professors have conducted research in conjunction with the zoo, like cognitive studies on olive baboons’ learning capabilities.
The Zoo is involved in many conservation programs like the Snow Leopard Trust and International Elephant Foundation, which both aim to protect endangered species. Additionally, zoos and aquariums serve to educate “hundreds of millions of guests each year about animals,” Johnson said.
If you are interested in something to do over the weekend, I would highly suggest exploring more of the city for this offbeat delight.