Update: Animal Health Center about to open, will step up animal care at zoo


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SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s new animal health center is approaching opening, despite supply chain issues pushing them past their original target date.

Zoo director Ted Fox said they were in the last hours and hopefully set to open in December.

It has come a long way since August, when NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla first took us inside the empty building.

Now packed with machinery and equipment, the new facility will take the operation and mission of the zoo to the next level.

For starters, the new facility is much larger than their current one-room clinic.

The animal care team will now have an imaging room, treatment room, operating room, pharmacy, research lab and children’s clinic … To name just a few additions.

The x-ray machine in the imaging room is designed so that any animal of any size can be x-rayed.

That alone will be huge. Right now, depending on the size of the animal, it’s a bit of a process.

“We go out, we take the image, we run back, we process the image, we have the x-ray, we can take a picture of it or physically have someone take it on the x-ray at Cornell,” said Fox.

Now they will be able to do everything in the room, rather than in an animal show.

It’s a win-win for the zoo and its long-standing partnership with Cornell. For years, students and veterinarians have worked with animals in Syracuse.

With the expansion, more students and staff will be able to be physically in the room when an animal is being treated.

The Imaging Room is one of those behind-the-scenes updates. What visitors to the zoo will see from the lobby are the kitchen, treatment room, operating room, research lab, and a children’s clinic where children can be vets for a day.

Visitors will also be able to watch surgeries and procedures through the windows of each room, but they will also be able to see things up close. Every procedure light in the operating and treatment rooms has a camera in the middle.

Now we bring one of the things that takes 70 to 80 [percent] everyday as animal welfare folks at the forefront of what we do here at the zoo.

Ted Fox

Another new aspect of the health center is an autopsy room.

At present, the animals are sent to Cornell after their passage. Having a clinic on this campus will help the staff learn what happened to the animal so they can help him and his species in the future.

“They are [Cornell researchers] always in the bank of information to save species, not only in zoos but all the species that we have, you know, they are also wild populations.

The entire installation was designed with the zoo’s mission in mind.

“It’s not just about exhibiting animals, having fun and looking at them. It’s all about the care of every animal that lives here.

ted fox

The hope is that the facility opens in December.

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Boyd S. Abbott