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Zoo New York unveils master plan

Watertown's Zoo New York unveiled a multi-phase master plan Wednesday.
Watertown's Zoo New York unveiled a multi-phase master plan Wednesday.(WWNY)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 5:59 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Watertown’s Zoo New York has big dreams.

It’s hoping to convert one of its current buildings into a freshwater aquarium and redesign guest services into a more accessible welcome center.

It’s one part of a multi-phase master plan the zoo unveiled Wednesday afternoon.

“We cannot look at what we were 30 years ago, we have to look at what we want to be 30 years from now,” executive director Larry Sorel said.

Sorel says the zoo is looking to complete the plans in four phases over the course of the next 10 to 15 years.

Included in the plan are an adventure park that would become its own separate attraction, a walk-through aviary, and sections of the zoo that would help paint a picture of the wildlife found in each region of the state, from the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes and Long Island.

“We want to be able to move them through chutes and really properly in a modern way handle the animal at the least amount of risk for the animal and the least amount of risk for the staff,” Sorel said.

However, the plans still need to receive the go-ahead from several different entities like the zoo board and the city of Watertown, since it owns the land where changes would be made.

Once all the approvals are in the place, the zoo would then move into the fundraising phase where Sorel says phase one alone would cost upwards of $6 million.

“We’re hoping to have some government funding at multiple levels,” Sorel said. “We are hoping to have foundation and grant funding and we are also going to be seeking private, individual funding.”

Sorel says if all goes well, they hope to complete the first phase by 2024.

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