Bear Mountain State Park upgrades trailside museums and zoo

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) today announced three new mammal exhibits at Bear Mountain State Park’s Trailside Museums and Zoo. The new bobcat, red fox, and porcupine exhibits were designed to provide larger natural habitats for the animals while honoring the rustic charm of the historic facility and adjacent museum building.

This $1.8 million improvement project adds three new, state-of-the art animal habitats and a public loop trail — replacing a row of four smaller exhibits. To accomplish this, the previous exhibit infrastructure was first removed, allowing the area to be reclaimed. The larger new habitats were then carefully integrated into the landscape, incorporating spectacular natural rock outcroppings. Rustic animal night houses, built from local stone and lumber to resemble the nearby museum, round out the site.

“New York State Parks welcomes this enhancement to Bear Mountain State Park’s Trailside Museums and Zoo, one that has thoughtfully optimized animal care considerations and the sites natural topography,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “Our partners at the Palisades Interstate Park Commission are to thank for this project, as is the generosity of the Drew family and partners at New York Works, the Environmental Protection Fund Grant Program (EPF), the State Park Infrastructure Fund (SPIF), and the Garden Club of Orange & Dutchess Counties.”

Executive Director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission Joshua Laird said, “For 96 years, Trailside Museums & Zoo has been a place where children and families from all over have come to learn about our region’s environment and history. Originally founded as a field station of the American Museum of Natural History, Trailside is a home for animals that cannot survive in the wild, an education and research facility, and supporter of conservation efforts across our parks. The new enclosures for our bobcat, fox, and porcupine represent Trailside’s future as we continue the Zoo’s educational mission while providing the best possible environment for the animals in our care. We are grateful for all our partners at New York State Parks, the Drew family, and the Garden Club of Orange & Dutchess Counties who supported this project.”

“The Garden Club of Orange & Dutchess is pleased to provide support for the purchase of the native plantings which will grace this exciting project, as part of our ongoing collaboration with Trailside Museums and Zoo,” said PIPC Commissioner and Garden Club member Jeannette Redden and Garden Club member Fenella Heckscher in a joint statement.

Funding for the project was sourced from a $680,000 endowment, with the remainder from New York State Parks capital funds and grants.

All of Trailside’s featured animals are local, native species (such as black bear, eastern coyote, beaver, bald eagle, various owls and hawks, etc.) and virtually all are non-releasable and could not survive in the wild. Thus, unlike conventional zoos, Trailside functions both as an environmental education and native animal rescue facility.

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