The Rosamond Gifford Zoo

By Karen Hor

This week I decided to trek to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. According to The Post-Standard, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is one of visitors’ top 10 choices of places to go in Syracuse—others include Armory Square, Carousel Center, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and the Everson Museum of Art.

I’m not one to go mainstream, but the thought of me getting the chance to see naked mole rats prompted me to close my blank “three page essay” Word Doc and drive down to Burnet Park at One Conservation Place. Lucky for me, I went to visit my fuzzy warm-blooded friends before Syracuse decided to hail in the coming days.

I walked up the long cement stairs past what seemed like a half-assed forest until I reached the entrance. A painted metal sculpture of a neighing horse gave me a taste of what I was about to experience. The best place to start the show, of course, was the Diversity of Birds free flight aviary. I was immediately blown away at the sight of a red-eyed Asian Fairy Bluebird whose sharp soft blue shades contrasted its black feathers.

Another bird that caught my attention was the American Kestrel—it looks like a mutated half leopard and half baby NYC pigeon ¬– which is shockingly very cute. I continued touring the zoo until I finally reached the main attraction (in my mind, anyway): naked mole rats! Yes! A dozen of these bald suckers cradled in a poorly designed cave incubator. As my nose pressed against the glass for a closer look, I swear one of them gave me a high five. I saw lanky sloths, weird looking lemurs, flamboyant peacocks, chill meerkats, a scary Star Wars-Chewbacca look-a-like golden tamarind, and a fluffy lion that I convinced myself they would be the perfect house pet.

Growing up in New York City, I’ve been to some of the most renowned zoos—the Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, and Staten Island Zoo. But I must admit, this is by far the biggest, most bio-diverse, and adventurous zoo I have visited. Wild animals, domestic animals, aquariums, monkey jungles, lake swans and dinky flamingos; Gifford has it all. This zoo encourages educators and students on its website to visit the school and learn more about the importance of sharing one environment with all creatures of the world.

Karen Hor is a regular contributor to Nearby Nooks, updated Wednesdays.