Founded in 1914, the Utica Zoo has served the region for over one hundred years. In 1909, Thomas R. Proctor set aside and donated the land where the Zoo sits in Utica’s Roscoe-Conkling Park. Proctor hired famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. to plan Roscoe Conkling Park’s roads and scenic walkways. The Utica Parks Department formerly operated the Zoo property until 1964, when the Utica Zoological Society formally inherited ownership of the site. In 1966, the group hired the Zoo’s first professional director, and one year later, the site opened the Children’s Zoo. The New York State Educational Department chartered the Zoological Society as an educational organization in 1968 and the site inaugurated its own education department in 1973. Builders completed the site’s first building (today’s Wildlife Building) in 1920, which houses the Zoo’s administrative offices and personnel, auditorium, reptile exhibits and the kitchen, while construction concluded on the building’s Animal Care Center in 1981. Oneida County provides the Zoo with annual support and an annual operating grant from the New York State Natural Heritage Trust, while the Zoological Society raises the remainder of the budget through admissions fees, society membership, special events, the gift shop, the Adopt an Animal program, animal feed sales, stroller rentals, pavilion rentals and donations. The Zoo remains an active institution in South Utica’s recreational complex.
Scope of Collection
The Utica Zoo Collection contains a plethora of newsletters, newspaper articles and clippings, photographs, and other assorted material relating to the history, development, and operation of the Utica Zoo. Included are several issues of the Zoo’s annual newsletters including the “Zootica” and “Zoo News” publications, as well as the more recent “Utica Zoo Newz” publication. These newsletters date from 1966 to 2015. The collection also contains six scrapbooks collated at the Zoo, which contain a variety of newspaper articles, clippings, and memorabilia relating to the Zoo’s past events and history. Lastly, four binders worth of photographs of Zoo personnel, animals, the complex itself, and past events are included.