WATERTOWN — Enhanced guest experiences, more animals including moose, a zip line, better food opportunities, additional restrooms and a bigger aquarium.

These are just some of the new amenities that are being proposed in Zoo New York’s 10-year master plan, the first one put together in two decades.

CEO and Executive Director Lawrence J. Sorel unveiled the zoo’s blueprint for the future during a City Council work session Monday. It’s a good time to compile the master plan because Zoo New York in Thompson Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary during 2021, he said.

Zoo-goers will have a better experience by seeing different species of animals and in a more natural setting, Mr. Sorel said.

Different parts of the zoo would be devoted to the Adirondack Mountains, the Long Island Sound, the region’s agriculture and the importance of animals with the Native American culture.

The new animals would include moose, harbor seals, bison and caribou, as well as other reptiles, amphibians and small animals.

“We’re not just the zoo of the north country,” Mr. Sorel said. “We’re the zoo of all of New York.”

The zoo once was the home of exotic animals but made a change during the early 1990s to exhibit animals that live in New York state. Zoo officials now hope to take Zoo New York to the next level with the addition of the amenities in the master plan.

The master plan calls for gutting a building to expand more space for guests and the zoo’s aquarium; completing preventive maintenance for the zoo’s core facilities; enhancing a snack bar so it could offer hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries; adding restrooms at the back of the zoo; and creating a separate entrance and exit.

A separate entrance and exit is a standard at most zoos, Mr. Sorel said, adding that the zoo would then be able to enhance its gift shop. The zip line, a natural playground and snack bar would be available for people just visiting Thompson Park.

The zoo would add a bird aviary, replacing one that was torn down about 10 years ago to make room for a pavilion. A small building would be constructed for guest services near an event lawn that would offer a variety of activities. Another smaller food venue also would be created.

Mr. Sorel led a design team composed of board members and other zoo officials to put together the document. The local engineering firm of GYMO Architecture, Engineering & Land Surveying is donating its time to help the zoo come up with the master plan. “It was a group effort,” said GYMO Principal Architect Edward G. Olley Jr. “The team did a lot of work.”

Over the next few months, zoo officials will get input from the public by making presentations to local organizations before exhibiting a final master plan at a gala on Aug. 28 at the zoo.

City Council members seemed to like the plans.

“You have a lot of work to do,” Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said.

Councilwoman Lisa A. Ruggiero said the zip line would be “a nice addition.”

The unveiling of the master plan comes at a time when the zoo will be taking over the marketing of Thompson Park from the city through an $80,000 grant from the Watertown Local Development Corp.

Mr. Sorel, who previously led the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester for years, has been Zoo New York’s CEO for the past three years.

The city now owns the zoo’s 25 acres — of which one half are developed — and its buildings, while the Thompson Park Conservancy board operates the facility. In 1991, the conservancy took over the zoo from the city.

Last year, the zoo unveiled a new name and logo. It had been called the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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