The gardens are growing!

The monarch butterflies have almost returned to Rochester.

According to Journey North, monarchs have been sighted in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Have you prepared your #partyformonarchs yet? Midtown Athletic Club has!

The garden was planted on May 9, when Seneca Park Zoo’s Butterfly Beltway program visited the Athletic Club. Families and individuals worked together, got their hands dirty and installed the garden right outside the front door of the athletic club. By building this garden, we are bringing back habitat for monarchs and other butterflies.


Photo by Pamela Reed Sanchez.

Photo by Pamela Reed Sanchez

Photo by Pamela Reed Sanchez

Photo by Tim Fowler

Planted Butterfly Garden at Midtown Athletic Club. Photo by Tim Fowler

There is still time to get your garden ready for the monarchs. Make sure that you provide plenty of nectar plants, shelter sites and most importantly, milkweed, for your monarch caterpillars to eat.

You can also invite the Zoo to your own home or other site of your choosing to plant a garden so you can have your own #partyformonarchs. Once you have your garden completed, share the photo with us and using #partyformonarchs.

If you have any questions about butterflies or how to plant your garden please contact me at

Keep your eyes out for monarchs!

— Tim Fowler, Outreach Coordinator

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Kids can make a difference!

Last week, Seneca Park Zoo staff attended the Earth Day celebration at Indian Landing Elementary and helped the students there discover the role the Zoo plays in protecting animals and habitat, both in our own backyard and around the world.

We focused on the Zoo’s efforts to restore habitat here in New York State through our Butterfly Beltway Program. Students also received a milkweed plant to start a garden at their school.


Photo by Kelli O’Brien

The Zoo protects animal habitat around the world by donating money and volunteering to support organizations such as Health in Harmony, which saves orangutans by helping the people who share the habitat of these amazing apes.

To demonstrate the importance of habitat preservation, students at the Earth Day celebration role-played what happens when orangutans lose their natural habitat due to tree harvesting for palm oil.

Photo by Andrew Winterborn

Photo by Andrew Winterborn

Kids can make a difference by planting local habitat or fundraising to protect habitat internationally. Last year, fifth graders at Harris Hill Elementary raised $1,500 just by collecting loose change. Through the Zoo, they donated the money to Health in Harmony.

What could your class do to help protect animals and habitat, here in New York and abroad?


— Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Groups Program Coordinator

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Camp with a purpose at the Zoo

The sun is shining, birds are signing and spring is in full swing! 

Summer ZooCamp registration is also in full swing here at the Zoo and we are looking forward to an awesome summer with lots of fun but also with lots of purpose!


Conservation of animals and their habitat is at the heart of everything we do here at the Zoo. I am very excited that this year when you register your child for camp, you are also helping to save African penguins in their natural range. A portion of the proceeds of each camp registration will be going to Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB)


In addition to our monetary donations to conservation efforts, all of our camps are designed to help your child learn more about the wonderful diversity of animals on our planet and the challenges they face.

It is our goal to provide campers with the tools and knowledge they need to help make a difference for animals and the environment. Camps like Protecting PollinatorsWildlife Heroes and Zoo Research will empower your child to protect the natural world in their own backyard.


So this year, don’t just camp. Camp with a purpose! 

Spaces are filling up fast so be sure to register today. See you at ZooCamp!


— Emily Coon-Frisch, Manager of Program Development

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What can you do for monarchs?

In my last blog post I invited you to throw a #partyformonarchs and share your gardens with us. The recent warmer weather has been teasing us, and while we haven’t quite entered the heart of the planting season, it is almost here.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

In fact, the Butterfly Beltway Project will be planting our first garden of the season on May 9 at Midtown Athletic Club. This upcoming season looks to be an exciting year as we will be setting up gardens at private residences (maybe yours too?) and collaborating with schools, businesses and other organizations.

But there is more that you can do for monarchs. Scientists and lepidopterists (butterfly people) are looking for your help. By participating in one of two butterfly monitoring programs you can provide researchers with valuable information about butterfly populations.

  • Through Journey North you can report your monarch butterfly sightings. They even have a handy app to help you report butterflies as you are out walking your favorite trails or in the middle of your #partyformonarchs garden. This will help scientists understand when monarch butterflies return to the area, the locations they use and how their population is doing.
  • If you have a garden or a nearby field with milkweed in it, you can participate in the Citizen Science project Monarch Larval Monitoring Project. By doing weekly searches for monarch caterpillars through butterfly habitat like your garden, you can support MLMP’s goal of better understanding monarchs. They are looking to find out how and why monarch populations vary in time and space during their breeding season in North America. This will aid in conserving monarchs and their threatened migratory phenomenon and advance our understanding of butterfly ecology in general.
Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

If you participate in either of these programs, we want to know! Send me an email at to tell me about your conservation efforts, to ask any questions or to get help setting up your #partyformonarchs.

And keep an eye out for more Citizen Science programs that the Zoo will need your help with in the near future. With your participation, we can make a difference!


– Tim Fowler, Outreach Coordinator

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Seneca Park Zoo puts on a Party for the Planet

Taking place this Saturday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. free with Zoo admission, Party for the Planet is the Zoo’s way of celebrating Earth Day, in conjunction with 100 other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions. Since 1970, when the first Earth Day materialized out of emerging public consciousness, participants have brought attention to the need for a more sustainable future. 45 years later, events like Seneca Park Zoo’s Party for the Planet celebrate the importance of all the systems on our planet and the importance of how they are interconnected.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Party for the Planet continues the good work to transform the United States from a place where industry belches out black smoke into our atmosphere and generally underestimates the impact of freely sending pollution into our water, air and food systems into a nation with a growing sustainable energy industry, regular habitat cleanups and restorations and more attention to the value of a healthy environment.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Seneca Park Zoo docents have worked hard to bring you five separate stations that will help you explore the importance of a healthy ecosystem for the animals they represent, to be found throughout the Zoo during Party for the Planet. This year our docents will share with you what they know about:

  • Orangutans – Orangutans live in the vitally important jungle ecosystems of Southeast Asia. Seneca Park Zoo supports Health in Harmony both monetarily and with boots on the ground.  Stop by this station to see orangutan bio-facts and talk with our docents about this great project.
  • Rhinos – Bill, our Southern White Rhino represents animals under attack in Africa. Our Bowling for Rhinos event has donated more than $30,000 which directly supports LEWA Wildlife Conservancy and other rhino sanctuaries. Talk to docents at this station about how you can help.
  • Otters and Sturgeon – Your Zoo has released thousands of sturgeon in the Genesee River and is committed to releasing many more thousands in the future. The heath of the Genesee River is vitally important to us all. Learn more about the Zoo’s role in otter and sturgeon re-introductions at this table.
  • Penguins – Seneca Park Zoo is a leader in African Penguin breeding. With more than 90 chicks hatched, we drive penguin conservation through donating and supporting SANNCOBB in South Africa. This table will provide lots more information about this great program.
  • Elephants – Our support of the International Elephant Foundation directly funds conservation efforts throughout the natural range of African Elephants. Learn more here about the Zoo’s elephant programs at this docent table.
Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

In addition to our docent-led stations, we have some great local organizations on site to talk with you about their wonderful work to support a healthy environment.

  • The Audubon Society will have a station to spread their mission of protecting the environment with a focus on birds, wildlife and habitat.
  • Monroe County Parks will be on grounds from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to discuss rain gardens.
  • Center for Environmental Initiatives (CEI) will have a station showing video and talking about its work and the importance of the Genesee River.
  • Diamond Packaging, a new partner with the Zoo, will have a station focusing on their sustainability vision. They will also be giving away saplings to the first 150 people that stop by their booth.

The Seneca Park Zoo Society is also proud to be a sponsor of the Fast Forward Film Festival, which is holding its Green Carpet Gala and Screening on Saturday night at George Eastman House, a great way to end a day of raising awareness of the fragility of our earth.


– Tom Snyder, Interpretation Coordinator

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Throw a “Welcome Home” party for monarchs

The annual migration of the monarch butterfly back to the U.S. is getting started right now, and what’s astonishing is that these same butterflies that are making their way back to the U.S. are the same ones that left all the way back in September. Since then, they have had an extended vacation, resting in the trees in special locations throughout Mexico.

As the migration begins, this generation of butterflies will stop in Texas, where the female monarchs will then lay their eggs and die away. Around the end of June, the “grandchildren” of the monarchs leaving Mexico will arrive here in Rochester.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

Let’s throw them a “Welcome Home” party! Make our butterfly guests comfortable and have all of their favorite snacks on hand: plenty of nectar plants like echinacea (cone flower), monarda, and sedum but most importantly, milkweed.

This is the perfect time to start planning your garden, starting seeds or visiting your local garden store to get all of your party supplies.

Once you have your party set, take a picture of your garden and share it with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #partyformonarchs. Be sure to tag @SenecaParkZoo so we can see all your gardens!

We look forward to seeing all of your gardens as you help celebrate and conserve these amazing animals.

For more information about monarchs, butterfly gardens or our Butterfly Beltway project, contact Tim at


– Tim Fowler, Outreach Coordinator

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Teen Night at Seneca Park Zoo: Saturday, April 18

Where can your teen find friends, food, music and unique close-up experiences with amazing animals? The first ever Teen Night at Seneca Park Zoo will have it all.

Drop your teen and his or her friends off at the Zoo from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday April 18 for a rare opportunity to explore the Zoo at night. Our teen club, the ZooTeen Leaders, has prepared a jam-packed event.

A Zoo-wide scavenger hunt with prizes will be open throughout the night, and Zoo keepers will talk with teens and provide animal experiences at the snow leopard and tiger enclosures.

ZooTeen Leaders will also be handling animals from our education animal collection so your teen can get an up-close and personal look.


The Eagle’s Landing Café and Zoo Shop will be open for teens interested in purchasing food or “Zoo”venirs. A drawing will be held at the end of the night with chances to take home many great prizes.

A meerkats experience will also be available for teens to purchase and create treats for these inquisitive creatures.

Staff will be positioned throughout the Zoo at exhibits and along pathways for supervision. A cell number will be provided to registrants to reach the event coordinator in case of emergency.

Discounted pre-sale tickets are available now.

– Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Groups Program Coordinator

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