UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – On Monday, July 11th, the Utica Zoo held a gold shovel groundbreaking ceremony to announce the kickoff of its new ‘Welcome Center’; the largest single project in its history, and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, Assemblywomen Marianne Buttenschon, and Senator Joseph Griffo were all there to show their support.

“So far, so good”, was the catchphrase of the day according to Utica Zoo Executive Director Andria Heath as she eagerly explained how the new $2.5M 5,000 sq ft visitor ‘Welcome Center’ is going to dramatically change the operations and capabilities of the Zoo after its competition.

Front Entrance

Funding was made possible by two generous donations by the City of Utica through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) & New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP). The building was designed by Nelson Associates Architectural Engineering out of Clinton, NY. According to developers, construction will not displace any of the existing exhibits and is scheduled for completion at the beginning of December 2022.

“There will be no impact on any of the existing exhibits. The only thing that will be affected is the gift shop that will be moved and then reconnected to the new building once construction has been completed.” – Scott Maneen, Director of Marketing & Business Development

Features of the new building will include an architecture that will match the zoo’s existing Tudor-style design, two classrooms, event centers, an admission/member kiosk atrium, the visitor welcome center, and expanded retail & amenity areas, and an exterior courtyard.

“It’s going to be a versatile building that will meet a multitude of needs. It will showcase the 4-seasons, it will have family restrooms, it will have preschool classes for the kids, and we will then also be able to accommodate 5-star events. It’s going to be a total game-changer.” – Andria Heath, Executive Director of the Utica Zoo

Interior Floor Plan
Left to Right: Scott Maneen (Director of Marketing & Business Development), Lynn Kozak (Managing Architect), Brendan Marris (Project Architect), Mark Lawlor (Construction Administration)