Big changes are coming to the Utica Zoo.

A golden shovel ceremony was held on Monday to mark the launch of a new Welcome Center at the Zoo.

Board of Trustees President Kevin Conway calls it a monumental day for the Utica Zoo.

Conway says the building expansion will add nearly 4,000 square feet to the existing Welcome Center, which will include an expanded gift shop, classrooms, an events center and other amenities.

Nelson Associates Architectural Engineering of Clinton worked with Utica Zoo leadership and staff to create the Welcome Center

You can see the architect 's rending of the new Welcome Center below.

Dave Smith, WIBX
Dave Smith, WIBX

The $2.5 million project is the largest at the Utica Zoo to date.

Funding for the project was provided by the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the City of Utica’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The new welcome center is expected to be finished by the end of this year.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, State Senator Joseph Griffo and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon all attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We’re very fortunate and blessed to have zoo that it a destination not only for the great City of Utica but for the region,” said Mayor Palmieri.

Palmieri said it was easy to say yes to helping fund the project.

The Utica Zoo will be hosting its biggest fundraiser of the year, Brewfest, on Saturday August 6 from 6:00PM to 9:00 PM

For information on Brewfest and other upcoming events, visit

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