Zoo New York gets creative with events during pandemic

Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 3:15 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - We’ve all heard health experts say gathering outside is safer than gathering inside. For some organizations, that’s easier to do than others.

But for Zoo New York in Watertown, it has inspired new, COVID-19 safe events.

“We’ve had to get creative to show people we’re still here,” said Joshua Baughn, Zoo New York marketing and development director.

Zoo New York has a lot in store for guests to finish this unusual year on a high note.

Once again the zoo is holding Boo at the Zoo, but with some COVID-friendly changes.

“We’ve divided the day into AM and PM sections to limit guests at one time, to be COVID guideline compliant and ensure there’s a safe amount of space for everybody, with the different vendors and trick or treaters coming in at the zoo,” said Baughn.

New this year is School at the Zoo. Students can learn virtually at the zoo’s classroom setting, then when they’re done on their computers, zoo educators take them to learn about the animals.

“We wanted to give them an experience to come to the zoo 9-4 to do schoolwork, get everything done that they need to get done, use our wifi, use our safe space, and get exclusive zoo experiences here on the grounds,” said Baughn.

Also new this year will be Winter Wonderlights at the zoo.

“Winter Wonderlights is our version of lights on the lake. We’re offering the opportunity to members, to businesses, to folks to come enjoy the zoo all lit up for winter,” said Baughn.

Zoo officials say coming up with events is critical to bolstering the zoo’s finances and they’re fortunate to be able to host them safely.

“One of the great things about the zoo is that we’re 90 percent outside, with a lot of space, walkways, etc. So it gives us an advantage over some others that we can have events like this. The zoo depends on having admission, special events revenue, etc.,” said Larry Sorel, Zoo New York executive director.

Boo at the Zoo will be this weekend and next. For more information about that event and the others, visit the zoo’s website at

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