SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The new Animal Health Center at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is getting closer to opening, despite supply chain issues pushing them past their original target date.

Zoo Director Ted Fox says they’re in the final hours and should hopefully open in December.

It’s come a long way since August when NewsChannel 9’s Nicole Sommavilla first took us inside the empty building.

Now, filled with machines and equipment, the new facility will bring the zoo’s operation and mission to the next level.

For starters, the new facility is significantly larger than their current one-room clinic.

The animal care team will now have an imaging room, treatment room, operating room, pharmacy, research lab, and child’s clinic… just to name a few additions.

The x-ray machine in the imaging room is designed in a way that will allow them to x-ray any animal, no matter the size.

That alone will be huge. Right now, depending on the size of the animal, it’s a bit of a process.

“We go out, we take the image, we run back, we process the image, we have the x-ray, we can take pictures of it, or physically have someone take it down to radiography at Cornell,” said Fox.

Now, they’ll be able to do everything in the room, rather than in an animal’s exhibit.

It’s a win-win for the zoo and its long-running partnership with Cornell. For years, students and vets have been working with the animals in Syracuse.

With the expansion, more students and staff will be able to physically be in the room when an animal is treated.

The imaging room is one of those behind-the-scenes updates. What zoogoers will see from the lobby is the kitchen, treatment room, OR, research lab, and a child’s clinic where kids can be a veterinarian for a day.

Visitors will also be able to watch surgeries and procedures through the windows of each room, but they’ll also be able to see things up close. Each procedure light in the operating and treatment rooms has a camera in the middle.

Now we’re bringing one of the things that takes 70 to 80 [percent] of each of our days as the animal care people to the front of what we do here at the zoo.

Ted Fox

Another new aspect of the health center is a necropsy suite.

Right now, animals are sent to Cornell after they pass. Having a clinic on this campus will help the staff learn about what happened to the animal so they can help them and their species in the future.

“They’re [Cornell researchers] always banking information for saving species, not only in zoos but all the species that we have you know, they’re wild populations too.”

The entire facility was designed with the mission of the zoo in mind.

“It’s not just about exhibiting animals and having a fun time and looking at them. It’s about all this, the care that goes into taking care of every single animal that lives here.”

ted fox

The hope is for the facility to open sometime in December.