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Rosamond Gifford Zoo 'saves the rain'

Taking care of the animals and environment

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Taking care of endangered animals is always on display at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, but what you may not know is the same amount of care goes into protecting the environment.

The zoo has been participating in the Save the Rain program since 2009. Five major projects have saved millions of gallons of water from overloading Onondaga Lake.

Zoo Director, Ted Fox says, "What we try to do is every drop of water that falls here, it stays here."

An underground, intricate pipeline system constantly works to keep water right at the park.

While taking your friends and family to the zoo to visit the animals, it’s certainly possible to overlook the green infrastructure.

Fox says, “You wouldn't really notice anything but we have graphics all around and we love to talk about this."

One of the unique green features at the zoo is at the front entrance. The garden is actually a rain garden, and all the plants that are put in it like the cone flowers and the native grasses are put here specifically because they can absorb a lot of water. Water like the parking lot collects and distributes down the hill.

Fox says, "It looks like regular pavement but when you look at it closely, it's actually porous so water when it hits it, it doesn't just sit on the top and look for the easiest way to go down to the storm drain.”

As for inside the park, across from the penguin exhibit is a storm water wetland. It provides completely recycled, cleaner water for the swans and ducks.

Fox says, "The idea is that the water comes into the system, re-circulates, and comes in contact with as much root mass from all these aquatic water loving plants, making it cleaner and cleaner before bringing it back to the front courtyard.”

Even the roof of the elephant barn collects thousands of gallon of rain water because the whole roof is green!  The elephant pool has a big dry pond just down the hill that recycles water too.

Fox says,"If we dumped all 50 gallons of water in an hour, it could fill that pond and the soil in that pond is very specific and so are the plants that hold that water. There are also sand filters so we do some mechanical filtration to keep it as clean as possible so we don't have to dump it very often."

That set up is the only one of its kind and size, across the country, making Syracuse stand out among other accredited zoos.

For more information on the conservation education goals, you can click here to go to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s website. 

For more information on the Save the Rain program and projects across Onondaga County, click here.

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