For much of the early 2000s, the Utica Zoo dealt with chronic financial issues. But now the zoo seems to have turned a corner and is expanding at a rapid rate. Our Andrew Sorensen caught up with them as they unveiled two of their latest exhibits.
UTICA, N.Y. -- Coming out of a long period of financial difficulties, there is a lot of new noise at the Utica Zoo.
"(In) the last couple of years, the Utica Zoo has really created a transformation for itself," said the zoo's Executive Director Andrew DeLisle-Heath.
In the last two years, trainers say they have added nearly 30 new animals, including a host of African animals like lions, hyenas, a Serval cat and two African crested porcupines.
"We have a variety of animals that people really enjoy. Some are big exotics, some are baby goats. Who doesn't love to see a cute baby goat?" DeLisle-Heath asked.
But that's not all the zoo has been working on.
"New exhibits, clean grounds, we have Voss' here now as our concession stand, which has been wonderful," the director explained.
One of the things the zoo is excited about is starting to classify the animals by their geographic origin. Like the white-handed gibbons, who are from Southeast Asia.
DeLisle-Heath said they already have a few in mind: "Asian Realm, African Alley and we have some more surprises coming down the road."
They're even getting boosted community support, like the help they recently received from Home Depot.
"Both with man-power of donated time and talent, as well as quality materials and supplies, so we could build two new exhibits," DeLisle-Heath said.
They formally opened the Serval and porcupine exhibits Tuesday.
Home Depot says it's a great place to volunteer, partly because you get to see animals up close, but also because it's worthwhile.
"What a great way to take a non-profit organization like this, try to give some hard work, some money and build it up," French Road Home Depot Store Manager Lance Buckingham said.
The zoo says their ferocious comeback is nowhere near over, with a major announcement and even more exhibits expected in the next few weeks.