ZooCamper inspired to save orangutans

We can’t believe another summer of ZooCamp has come and gone! But we’re comforted to know that it’s not the last time we’ll see everyone, since many of our campers return to ZooCamp year after year, becoming more and more interested in saving animals from extinction and finding ways to help do that.

This summer, one such camper made us very proud by putting her inspiration into action. Her name is Avi and she’s eight years old, entering fourth grade in September.

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

“Avi learned about palm oil, deforestation and the effects on the orangutan population by attending ZooCamp at the age of five,” Avi’s mom Louisa told us. “Ever since, she became a little activist by educating others about this great cause.”

But Avi didn’t just stop at telling others how they can help save orangutans. She made changes in her own eight-year-old lifestyle to help orangutans herself.

“She insisted on boycotting companies that use palm oil in their products and makes certain to read labels when grocery shopping,” Louisa says.

But that wasn’t all. Avi felt especially connected to baby orangutans who lose their mothers in their natural range and wanted to have a direct impact on these orphaned animals. So she did some research and found out about The Orangutan Project, an organization that could help her adopt an orphaned orangutan.

In order to raise money to make the adoption, Avi sold lemonade and saved every cent until she was able to raise the funds.

“She’s been on cloud nine ever since,” Louisa says. “This was a big accomplishment for her. She is our little eight year old activist!”

Leave a comment »

Campers become Wildlife Heroes!

Last week ZooCampers spent all week discovering what it takes to be wildlife heroes.  Campers spent time exploring some of the conservation work we do here at the Zoo and learned how to help wildlife in their own backyard. What was most exciting about this camp is that the campers decided they wanted to do something extra special to help animals in their natural ranges! So they spent part of their camp week preparing poster presentations to share with Zoo visitors to tell them why animals are endangered in the wild and what people can do to help.

Campers even collected a few donations to support penguin conservation. This money and a portion of every camp registration fee will be donated to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to help save African penguins. Way to go campers!

–Emily Coon-Frisch, Manager of Program Development
Photos by Ceci Menchetti

Leave a comment »

ZooTeens start off their summer at the Zoo

The summer is here and that means the ZooTeens are too!

I often hear from visitors that they look forward to the return of ZooTeens on grounds. Visitors of all ages interact with the teens at ZooTeen stations, touching biofacts, playing games and getting answers to their questions.

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

This year, the program involves over 120 teens staffing conservation education stations throughout the Zoo.

These dedicated teens go through a training program, learning about the Zoo’s animals and our conservation initiatives committed to preserving species in nature.

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Teens develop their presentation skills and make lasting friendships with peers who share their interest.

Visit with our teens seven days a week through mid-August and approach any of our ten stations for a fun, interactive and educational experience!


–Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Groups Program Coordinator

Leave a comment »

New counselors for ZooCamp!

It’s ZooCamp season! This year we will have record number of camp sessions and a record number of campers, thanks to the addition to our new education building. You’ve probably seen this building if you have been to the Zoo recently or maybe you read about it in the recent blog post from Bart Roselli, Director of Education and Interpretation.

We currently have 592 campers registered for summer ZooCamp, with more signing up every day. In 2014 we had a total of 515 campers. Wow!

With all those new campers we needed new ZooCamp Counselors, and we have a great team this summer! We are proud to share that a majority of our ZooCamp Counselors have Master’s degrees in education and are certified teachers.  Many also have extensive experience working in other camp or recreation settings. We are so excited to have such an experienced and dedicated staff on board!

Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Even with all their experience, the team still goes through lots of training.  The Counselors spent the past three weeks helping to run our sold-out preschool camps with more experienced staff as a way to learn the ropes. After camp, they attended a training class, getting ready for our camps for school-aged children, which begin July 6.


Photo by Ceci Menchetti

Our training schedule includes lots of normal things you would expect at a new job such as policies, procedures, paperwork etc., but since it is a Zoo, we also give the team a chance to experience some of the fun animal related activities that our campers will be doing this summer.  Camp staff helped to clean the elephant barn, learned about cleaning the rhino yard, and even made paper mache enrichment items for the animals!

Photo by Emily Coon-Frisch

We also spent some time really diving in, learning about how camps are specially designed for each age group and what the learning styles and behaviors of each age group are. We offer camps for kids ranging from ages 3 to 12 years-old, and we know every age groups comes with its own exciting skills and interests, so we want to ensure that our team is prepared for the needs and abilities of each group.

It is gearing up to be a great summer and we can’t wait!


–Emily Coon-Frisch, Manager of Program Development

Leave a comment »

And they’re back!


The monarchs have finally returned to Western New York! This completes one of the most interesting journeys any animal undertakes.

The monarch migration will start in September when monarchs leave this area for the mountains just west of Mexico City. They will arrive there in late October or early November; they’ll hang out there for a few months and start their journey back north in March.

The butterflies that are just arriving now are not the ones that left here in the fall. They are either the first or second generation of offspring from the original southward migrants. While they are here in New York, there will be at least two more generations produced with the final generation ready to take wing and start the migration back to Mexico.

The monarch Tim spotted at the East High Butterfly Beltway Garden

The monarch Tim spotted at the Zoo’s Butterfly Beltway garden–his first sighting of the season!

So the butterflies going to Mexico have never been there before and the ones returning to New York have never been here! Scientist continue to study the amazing mechanisms and adaptations of monarchs that enable them to find their way to and from Mexico over the course of several generations.

This has been a very exciting week for me, not only because I spotted my first monarch of the season enjoying the butterfly garden that our ZooTeens created last summer, but also because I spotted my first monarch egg! This egg was carefully laid on the underside of a milkweed leaf in the Butterfly Beltway Project garden we planted at East High school.

Look closely and you can see a tiny monarch egg!

Look closely and you can see a tiny monarch egg.

A close-up view of the monarch egg Tim spotted on the back of a milkweed plant.

A close-up view of the monarch egg Tim spotted on the back of a milkweed leaf.

It is not too late to plant your #partyformonarchs butterfly garden. Be on the lookout for posts on both Facebook and Twitter that various organizations have written with #partyformonarchs tagged to see how your neighbors are helping save monarchs, too!

And remember…if you build it, they will come!


—Tim Fowler, Outreach Coordinator

Leave a comment »

New digs for education staff & animal collection

After several years of fundraising, planning, designing and a few months of building, the new homes of the Education Department staff, docents and its Program Animal Collection are now ready for occupancy.

“A dream come true” is how members of the Zoo’s staff and docents are referring to the wonderful, spacious and well-designed new spaces. One building (pictured here) will house all Education Department staff and docents as well as provide more than 600 square feet of additional classroom and program space.

This will greatly improve the quality of office space for staff, as well as give us new capacity to serve guests of all kids. The new classroom space will have ample room to host birthday parties, lectures and workshops for adults, camps, classes and more. It will be outfitted with some of the latest technology including a smart TV monitor, which will make it easy for program facilitators to engage audiences with content from around the world. It will even sport a Butterfly Beltway Garden and monarch breeding exhibit.


The classroom and office complex will be the site of many new and expanded programs, as well as provide a new “family bathroom” for Zoo guests’ use, making the facility even more visitor-friendly.

The new animal space provides both animals and their human caretakers a vastly improved facility. With separate rooms for birds, reptiles and amphibians, each space can be converted into the most appropriate micro-climate for that animal class by controlling temperature and light levels, for example. State-of-the-art enclosures for individual animals will provide both enhanced living quarters for the animals that simulate their natural habitats as well as an enhanced opportunity to showcase the animal as part of behind-the-scenes tours.


The new animal area also gives our keepers the spaces, rooms, easy water access and food storage spaces to provide our animals with the very best of care. All good for the animal and good for the keepers! Open spaces can also be used for animal enrichment and demonstrations.

We are so excited about the new spaces and the opportunities that they provide. Thanks to the grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, additional funding provided by the Seneca Park Zoo Society’s generous supporters and the County of Monroe, the quality of Seneca Park Zoo’s program and animal care facilities has been greatly elevated.

Be sure to visit the next time you’re here!


—Bart A. Roselli, Director of Education + Interpretation

Leave a comment »

Students lead successful Wolf Day

For years, the Seneca Park Zoo Society docents and Education Department staff have partnered with fifth graders at Rochester’s World of Inquiry School to celebrate wolves.


As part of this partnership, students spent months studying about wolves prior to Wolf Day yesterday, a Conservation Education Day hosted by the Zoo to celebrate wolves and educate visitors about how to help save them from extinction.


Docents helped by visiting the class to teach students how to handle wolf biofacts and share them with the public. They also worked with students on presentation skills, guiding them to have meaningful interactions with visitors.


World of Inquiry students spent the morning of Wolf Day near the wolf exhibit at the Zoo, which is home to three Mexican gray wolves, Chico, Diego and Durango. Sharing information about wolves and how zoos work to protect them, students set up several stations to educate visitors and display their hard work.

One group of students wrote poems about wolves to dispel the myth that they are evil animals, whicle another presented “Crazy Biofacts” to demonstrate wolf biology and behavior.


Students also created presentations about what you can do to help wolves and why wolves are important to their ecosystems around the world, as well as a Wolf board game, face-painting station and survey center where visitors learned about popular misconceptions about wolves.


There are only about 50 Mexican gray wolves left in their natural range, and Seneca Park Zoo is part of the animal’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to create sustainable populations in conservation care.


The students who made Wolf Day possible achieved their goal of communicating this important conservation message to Zoo visitors and had a fun, active day applying what they are learning in school in a real-world context.

To find out more about partnerships with Seneca Park Zoo and how your child’s class can have real-world, authentic learning experiences with Zoo visitors, contact School and Youth Group Program Coordinator Anneke Nordmark at anordmark@senecazoo.org.


Photos by Ceci Menchetti

Leave a comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.