On our way home, we stopped at the Utica Zoo. We hadn’t planned this – we had no idea Utica had a zoo but we saw the signs on the interstate and were making good time. It was also a nice halfway break to get out of the car and walk around. Admission is $6.75 US for adults but we were only charged $4 because we didn’t arrive until about 2 p.m. (this is our guess). The entire zoo can be seen in a couple hours and even in the busy season families and school groups seem to thin out in the afternoon so this seems like a good deal.
It’s a small zoo but with community interest and funding could be much bigger. Currently, they are using about half of the 80 acres that they have available. The zoo is a bit run down but for the most part, it seems well managed. They have an interesting collection of animals and a few that we don’t have at the Toronto Zoo:
There was also a muntjac, a red panda (which Toronto does have but seems to be always on the loose, hiding in the park or high in a tree in its paddock, impossible to see), a Mexican wolf and some exotic water fowl. The larger and scary animals are Siberian tigers, a grizzly bear and a snow leopard.
It was a great little zoo, perfect for small children who might be overwhelmed by trudging around a larger park. The downside seems to be underfunding, the gift shop is just sad and even though the posted hours are 10 to 5 year round, the park closed at 4, though this wasn’t acknowledged by any signs or told to us when we got there.
If you live in the area or are passing through, I recommend the Utica Zoo and if you’d like to help, their website has a zoo keeper wish list with everything from copy paper and bleach to gamebird egg incubators and a 5000 lbs. capacity scale.