What’s better than going to America’s fifth-oldest zoo? Going to its “Fall Fur All” Halloween event that maximizes the zoo experiences under the veil of the fun Halloween season. The Ross Park Zoo, located at 60 Morgan Road in Binghamton, is a local treat open seasonally from April through December. The Fall Fur All event is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Oct. 11 and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Oct. 12 to Oct. 25 at an admission price of $7 per person.
This year, organizers put up various Halloween decorations like pumpkins and ghosts all around the trail throughout the zoo. Families and children can receive a scavenger hunt guide to complete at the ticket booth. If they find all the answers to the questions, they get a special prize.
After almost 25 years, the Ross Park Zoo had to change up its Halloween event. The Fall Fur All event has minimized its scale from last year’s Halloween events because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rachel Peppard, the visitor and member services manager of Ross Park Zoo, explained that last year there were more hands-on activity stations like mummy beanbag tosses and crafts for kids.
“That takes many volunteers congregated in a small area to get ready and do costume changes,” Peppard said. “We weren’t able to do that safely.”
The zoo had various animals, ranging from rare ones like the red panda to colorful birds such as the Lady Amherst’s pheasant. There were smaller animals, such as the fennec foxes and lemurs, and larger ones, such as cougars and leopards.
Peppard mentioned how the Ross Park Zoo relied on fundraisers because it is a nonprofit organization. Other fundraiser events that were planned throughout the year have been canceled. These events would usually bring in 500 or 600 people, according to Peppard, but COVID-19 brought forth an unprecedented time for the institution.
“We’re in a tough spot, but we have to make sure the safety of our community, our staff, our animals, are at the forefront of everything we do at the moment,” Peppard said.
While the Ross Park Zoo has had to make some changes to its Halloween event this year, it is still finding ways to provide a good experience for the people that come. With many decorations and exciting animals to see, the zoo is not giving up.
“[The event is a] leisurely walk throughout the zoo because we are a beautiful outdoor park,” Peppard said. “Everyone feels safe coming to the park because they are able to socially distance.”