Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park Asian Elephant Exhibit Walkway System

Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo
Syracuse, NY

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in collaboration with other zoos, partnered in conserving populations of rare animals through their care and breeding programs. The zoo planned to enhance its Asian Elephant Exhibit by expanding the habitat yard and replacing the existing boardwalk with a new accessible walkway system, allowing visitors to see, appreciate, and learn about the rare and endangered elephant population housed at the zoo.

A new “elephant underpass” features a precast tunnel allowing visitors to walk overhead while elephants pass through to exhibit areas.  The new walkway integrates with the existing landscape, provides visitors with viewing/respite nodes along the route, and accommodates heavy equipment required for maintenance. Additionally, visitors can gather on “Elephant Island” to “engage” with the elephants as they lumber in the expansive field, throw hay on themselves, and drink from the waterhole. The environment allows the elephants to view visitors and serves as an outdoor educational classroom and special events location.

A custom-designed shade structure and unique lighting fixtures provide a comfortable gathering space that protects large groups and enhances the overall experience while visiting the exhibit. Other exhibit design features include the preservation of a treasured specimen maple tree and a safe and secure passageway for the elephants to cross the main zoo walkway which offers a one-of-a-kind experience for guests to safely see and experience the migration of the elephants from their indoor holding pens to the outdoor yards. The White-Lipped deer and red wolf exhibits are adjacent to the improved walkway, which increases viewing opportunities for each of these unique animals as well.