BINGHAMTON, NY – The country’s fifth oldest zoo can remain at its original location for at least another quarter century.
The Ross Park Zoo has signed a 25 year lease extension with the City of Binghamton.
It was established in 1875 after local businessman Erastus Ross donated 90 acres of his property to the city to create Ross Park which is also home to the Discovery Center.
In the agreement, the zoo is not charged for use of the property but is responsible for general maintenance with the city providing funds for major infrastructure projects.
The zoo gets some operating funds from Broome County through the hotel/motel tax which accounts for about 30 percent of its revenue.
The remaining money comes from admissions and fundraising which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
Executive Director Phil Ginter says the zoo couldn’t hold its large popular fundraisers last year, while it still had to pay for the care of its animals.
“It was challenging but we’re grateful for the support of the community. The community stepped up in a big way and provided support through our COVID relief fund. If it hadn’t been for the community stepping up like that, it would have been a much different picture for us,” says Ginter.
Ginter says the City of Binghamton did provide some COVID relief funds and federal PPP aid.
The zoo is currently open on weekends from 11 to 4 with the last ticket sold at 3.
The official start to the season takes place over Memorial Day weekend.