Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Winter attendance numbers at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo are the highest they’ve been in 25 years.
More than 12,000 people came to see the animals in January for the first time since 1988 and officials say they’re seeing a swell in visitors in February, despite the cold and snow of winter.
Attendees like Linda Melton – who brought her son Chase to the zoo on Wednesday for his second birthday – say that they like the lack of crowds. In addition they say the animals seem to spend more time outside.
“It's not as crowded and the animals are out more when it's cooler -- it's just nice,” she said.
According to Zoo Director Ted Fox, the animals are becoming more active as the days become longer.
“The animals start to really become more and more active as the day lengths start to increase and that's obvious when you come to the zoo and see all the animals out and about and it's a great time to be here,” Fox said.
With fewer visitors, zoo staff members say the animals are more likely to interact with those people who do stop by – even the snow leopards who were born this past summer.
“In the summer when there's hundreds and thousands of people coming through in a day - animals kind of tune people out a little bit, but in the winter when there's just one family, then there's a space of time with nobody here, then more people come through. The animals definitely focus and want to interact with those people a little bit more than they would at other times of the year,” Fox said.
And new attractions are on the way, including an octopus exhibit that should be ready by the end of spring.