1888: Lands purchased for Seneca Park.
1890-1897: Fredrick Law Olmsted Company creates plans for Seneca Park.
1893: Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. retires due to Alzheimer's complications.
1893: Seneca Park officially opens to public.
1894: Animals first displayed in lower Seneca Park. The Zoo originally featured different species of deer and some birds, and had an outdoor aviary next to the trout pond in the lower park. During part of the year, some of these animals were displayed in Durand Eastman Park.
1895: Trout introduced to Trout Pond; Mongolian pheasants introduced.
1897: Bird cages and animal shelters constructed next to Trout Pond.
1902: Permanent shelters for 150 animals constructed next to Trout Pond.
1903: Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. dies.
1905: Large-flight cage for 300 birds is constructed in lower Seneca Park.
1931: The first major addition to the Zoo, the building of the Main Zoo Building, was completed. It featured a wide variety of exotic animals that hadn't been displayed at the Zoo before. One of the most famous residents of that building was Jimmy the Chimp, who, at the time of his death at age 55 on September 17, 1985, was the oldest chimpanzee in captivity. When first opened, this building was true to the menagerie style of most zoos of the time, featuring dozens of unrelated species in a fairly compact space.
1937: The aviary next to Trout Pond is the only remaining Zoo exhibit in lower Seneca Park.
1957: The Seneca Park Zoo Society was chartered as an educational institution by New York State. Since that time, the Society has evolved into a non-profit organization that supports and promotes the Zoo by running educational programs, special events, marketing and public relations efforts, fundraising and food and gift operations. The Society offers memberships that are very popular with area families.
1969: A children's Zoo is established north of Main Zoo Building.
1975: A polar bear grotto was built at the south end of the Main Zoo Building for the Zoo's two famous polar bears, Penny and Nickels. As their names suggest, Penny and Nickels were brought to the Zoo through the pennies and nickels collected by area schoolchildren. There had been no other major physical improvements to the Zoo until 1993.
1991: The Seneca Park Master Plan is adopted by Monroe County Legislature. The same year, the Seneca Park Zoo Development Plan is adopted by the Monroe County Legislature.
1993: Genesee Trail and the Discovery Center opened. This exhibit was the first phase of the development plan funded by the Seneca Park Zoo Society and adopted by the Monroe County Legislature in 1991. The new exhibit was the first of the natural habitat, landscape immersion exhibits at the Zoo. These exhibits are the future of zoos, and help the visitor see what the animals are like in homes reflecting their native ones in the wild. This exhibit was built with $2 million dollars of Society-raised funds and $500,000 of County funds. Annual attendance is 250,000.
1997: The Rocky Coasts exhibit was built with $7.75 million in County funds and $450,000 in Society-raised funds. This state-of-the-art facility provides many of the Zoo's animals with more spacious natural homes, and the Zoo's visitors with an incredible experience of seeing the polar bear and sea lions under water. The Zoo's attendance reached a record-breaking 506,660 in 1997; demonstrating the strong interest in the Zoo of local residents.
1998: The Zoo's Visiting Animal Program begins. Annual attendance 361,783.
2001: The Seneca Park Zoo Master Plan is adopted by Monroe County Legislature.
2003: The Discovery Center is renamed the Kodak E.C.O. Center. Annual attendance is 343,420.
2004: The Zoo built the Animal Health and Education Complex, including a conference center, two classrooms, a state-of-the-art animal hospital and an interactive Zoologists of Tomorrow (Z.O.T.) Zone.
2005: The Zoo added a cougar exhibit. The new exhibit was specially designed with a glass viewing area to give visitors a nose-to-nose experience with the felines. The exhibit also includes a viewing tunnel, a protected dome that allows visitors to crawl into the exhibit and see these fascinating felines up close and personal.
2006: The two African elephants who call the Seneca Park Zoo home move into their home in the A Step Into Africa exhibit. The new elephant yard measures approximately 23,000 square feet. The indoor barn is an approximately 11,000-square-foot facility with a 1,000-square-foot visitor viewing area.
2008: A Splash Pool was added to the elephant's home and the Zoo opened a brand new Baboon Exhibit that is home to 10 baboons.
2012: The third phase of A Step Into Africa is completed and opened to the public in May of 2012. This state-of-the-art exhibit includes three African lions, a Maasai Village, a double-decker Safari Bus and a Dig Zone.