Monroe County officials joined patrons and guests to cut the ribbon Friday on the new “Cold Asia” exhibit at the Seneca Park Zoo.
It features Red Pandas and Snow Leopards, native to the eastern Himalayan and Southwest China regions.
Zoo veterinarian Louis DiVincenti says this is a huge step for the zoo as it implements its Master Plan.
“Red pandas are a staple of Cold Asia, and so they are a natural species to go along with our snow leopards. They sort of live in the same habitat in the Himalayas, so they occupy different niches in that same habitat, so it’s a natural species to join our snow leopards as we open this new area," he said.
And DiVincenti says while it's a little warm right now, the animals will feel right at home during one of Rochester's winters.
“They really should enjoy the winter and be out in the snow and really enjoy that part of our weather,” he said.
The new exhibit is part of Phase 1 of the Zoo’s $60 million dollar Master Plan.
Zoo Director Larry Staub says it’s a worthwhile investment because visitors to the zoo can not only have a great time, they can learn about the animals and efforts to conserve and protect them.
“It’s not just a place to have a nice outing, have fun. It’s a place to also learn while you’re here,” he said.
The Seneca Park Zoo's Master plan calls for relocating some animals and adding another new exhibit this summer, “African Savannah Experience,” according Staub.
It will feature a giraffe, rhino, zebra, ostrich and naked mole-rats.
“This was all so we could take down the main zoo building and move some key species that we wanted to preserve here at Seneca Park Zoo, and get on with the rest of our master plan which will be the replacement of the main zoo building in 2021-2022 with a brand new tropics experience. So great things are happening here at the zoo,” he said.
Staub says the 60-year old main building will be brought down in September.
The county has pledged $37 million dollars while the Seneca Park Zoo Society has pledged $23 million for the master plan.
Zoo director Larry Staub says the Seneca Park Zoo Master Plan is a worthwhile investment:
Here's one of the Red Pandas at the new exhibit: