Economic development money helps fund Trolley, new animals for Seneca Park Zoo

Some upgrades will be in store for the Seneca Park Zoo (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - Lions, tigers and bears oh, my!

Well, not quite, but the Seneca Park Zoo is getting a major upgrade.

The zoo is one of the 97 projects awarded funds through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council last week.

The park won $1 million; it’s the zoo's second grant, with a total grant amount of $2.5 million to help complete its $60 million Master Plan to upgrade the park.

Jennifer Petix brings her two-and-a-half-year-old twins to the Seneca Park Zoo at least once a month. Dominic and Lucia love it.

"We see the wolf and the tiger,” Lucia Petix said. “And he's scary."

By June 2018, there will be more animals. The area north of the existing “Step in to Africa” exhibit will expand, including a year-round giraffe feeding station, zebras and ostriches.

The zoo will also welcome red pandas.

"To be able to bring new species to the area so quickly, it's very exciting,” said Pamela Reed Sanchez, the executive director of the Seneca Park Zoo. “Red pandas love the cold; they love the snow. So, it's an animal that will be active year round. It’s something that will be sweet for them."

The improvements also include a trolley that will run the length of the 15.5-acre park. You can either catch the trolley at the front of the zoo or you can hitch the ride at the end of the zoo, just past the Elephant barn.

"It’s a great service,” Reed Sanchez said. “For a family who's here with small children, who suddenly get really tired, or somebody who is less physically able than others, or for grandparent who's here who wants to get a quick return. “

Petix’s son, Dominic, loves trains.

“That would be a wonderful addition to the zoo,” Petix said. “Sounds like that would be a great thing.”

Exhibits for other animals at the zoo, such as the rhinos and snow leopards, will be moved around as part of the changes.

Visitors can expect all this work to be completed in the summer of 2018.

"This is phase one of transformation that I think the public will really begin to understand what a zoo really is, and how it connects people to the bigger world outside of us," Reed Sanchez said.

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