Updated: Sep 4, 2021
My (badass) girlfriend's son used to volunteer at the Utica Zoo.
Zoos are problematic for me. It's a difficult thing to see wild animals in cages. Zoos are historically born of menageries; a way for the rich and powerful to feel even more so. When animals are so completely out of their natural habitats and stuffed into a small area it feels wrong.
I was feeling off-put by the bald eagles in a tree under a net. Then I learned they were rescued after an accident and can't be released. Those are the type of animals I understand being in captivity.
Modern zoos can be forces for conservation and environmental awareness in the world. Utica Zoo has a significant improvement plan to upgrade their habitats, fundraising opportunities all year, and many educational opportunities for the public to learn how their actions can effect the wild places of the world.
Utica Zoo is home to four male Mexican Gray Wolves.
Mexican Gray Wolves can only be found in Arizona and New Mexico. These gorgeous animals used to range the southwestern United States in great numbers, but according to Defenders of Wildlife, in 2019 there were only 163 individual wolves left in the wild.
Due to these major issues, the Mexican Gray Wolf is considered the most endangered subspecies of wolf in the world. Thankfully, conservation organizations are working to release new bonded pairs of wolves to the wild to help repopulate and save their species, and help educate humans in their range on ways to effectively coexist.
The Utica Zoo's Mexican gray wolves have participated in the past in ongoing research studies to improve our understanding of their genetic relationships, to create genetically diverse breeding pairs and ultimately bolster wild populations.
Sherlock the Red Fox has lived at the Utica Zoo for over ten years. Red foxes have excellent hearing and sense of smell. They can hear a mouse squeak from up to 40 yards away. That is pretty cool. Except if you're a mouse.