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Friends Of The Rosamond Gifford Zoo At Burnet Park Inc

Animal Health Center Capital Campaign

The new state-of-the-art animal health center will provide medical care and treatment for zoo animals, a teaching hospital for future zoo veterinarians and a research facility devoted to the well-being of animals in human care and in the wild.
raised of US$1,100,000 target
RCN 237083532

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When the Rosamond Gifford Zoo's current animal clinic was built in the 1980s, it was ground-breaking for its time. Besides providing an exam room, X-ray station, surgical suite and quarantine area for zoo animals, our clinic was among the first to have public windows on treatment rooms, giving zoo visitors a first-hand look at animal health care in action.

Since then, a lot has changed! The number of endangered species in our care has grown. Medical technology and our understanding of many wild species has greatly advanced. Our participation in research on behalf of wildlife conservation has intensified. And we have become a teaching facility where Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine veterinarians practice and teach as part of Cornells zoological medicine program.

All of this means our little clinic has become woefully inadequate to the missions at hand. In our last two accreditation cycles in 2013 and 2018, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) said our clinic is too small for a zoo of our size, cannot provide hospitalization for most of the larger species in our care and lacks proper quarantine areas to ensure best health and safety practices.

But keeping our AZA accreditation is just part of the reason we are building a new Animal Health Center. We also want to provide the very best health care available to every animal in our care, maintain and grow our reputation as a leader in animal care and welfare and increase our contributions as a teaching and research facility.

The new Animal Health Center at Rosamond Gifford Zoo will be a free-standing complex exceeding 20,000 square feet, about 10 times the size of our current clinic. Onondaga County allocated $7.5 million to design, engineer and construct the building, and Friends of the Zoo has pledged to outfit it with the state-of-the-art diagnostic and medical equipment with help from this Capital Campaign!

Onondaga County broke ground on the health center in September 2020 and construction is well underway with completion slated for September 2021.


Have the space, equipment and tools to provide top-notch health care for over 215 animal species at the zoo, from prenatal to geriatric care and preventive checkups to major surgery.

Allow our veterinary team to perform most exams and procedures on-site at the zoo, eliminating the need to borrow or rent diagnostic equipment or to transport a sick or stressed animal off grounds.

Meet and exceed the standards required for our next accreditation by AZA in 2023 and for decades to come.

Expand our 22-year partnership with Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, which allows vets from one of our nations top veterinary schools to practice at the zoo while their students, interns and residents benefit from rotations through a premier zoological medical center.

Increase our ability to participate in in-depth research projects to improve the health and well-being of animals at AZA zoos and aquariums and in their wild habitats, including research aimed at combatting life-threatening diseases such as EEHV, the lethal herpes virus that claimed the lives of our two young elephant calves in December 2020.

Greatly serve our mission to provide our public with educational experiences of animal health and welfare in action. Floor to ceiling windows will look in on the lab, nursery/ICU, animal nutrition kitchen, treatment rooms and surgical suite, among others. Large video screens and new video technology will allow us to share everything we do for animal health from nutrition to routine exams to radiology to surgical procedures with our Central New York community and beyond.

Exemplify the One Health philosophy of connecting people to animals, nature and our planet and educating them about the collective, connected health of all living things.

On behalf of our animals and our conservation and education missions, please consider making a donation -- of any amount -- toward this extremely important project. We thank you for supporting this worthwhile cause.

If you would like to learn more about this project and how you can be a part of this campaign, please contact Heidi Strong at or call (315) 455-8511.

Download the Animal Health Center Case Statement

Download the Opportunities for Giving

About the charity

The Friends organization exists to provide financial support to the zoo through funds dedicated to the welfare of our animals, our educational programs and our family-friendly facilities.

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