Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums

Skip Navigation LinksHome / Grants / Grant Programs / Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums


ZBGA is a non-competitive, eligibility-based grant program that provides consistent operational support for existing natural heritage collections and interpretive programs, with the goal of elevating and expanding the quantity and quality of natural heritage learning opportunities available to the public.


ZBGA provides reimbursement for expenses related to the care, maintenance, security and interpretation of eligible collections. Funds are made available through an appropriation from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund and administered through the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP).


Applicants must be municipal or not-for-profit organizations that own, house and care for living or systematically organized collections of biological specimens and that primarily provide such services to the general public on a regular and predictable basis. Eligible collections must meet at least one of the below definitions:

  • preserved and systematically organized biological objects such as vascular and nonvascular plants, vertebrate and invertebrate animals and fossils that are interpreted in conjunction with living collections;
  • living animals and plants that are cared for and interpreted for the public in artificial or substitute habitats as captives or transplants;
  • natural habitats of New York State that are formally dedicated in perpetuity to be maintained as viable, natural ecological associations for wild animals and plants, and that are interpreted for the public.

Eligible organizations may include, but are not necessarily limited to: zoos, botanical gardens, arboretums, aquariums, bird sanctuaries, natural habitat preserves, natural science museums, and nature and environmental centers.

Program Restrictions

The following entities, programs and activities are not eligible for funding under the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program:

  • for-profit organizations;
  • public school districts or their components;
  • Federal agencies and their programs;
  • New York State agencies and departments;
  • cemeteries;
  • natural history collections;
  • historical, archaeological or anthropological collections;
  • art collections;
  • science-technology collections;
  • astronomy collections;
  • primarily commercial gardens and plantings;
  • programs primarily concerned with the culture of plants for food, comfort, or beauty;
  • programs primarily concerned with interpretation, utilization and/or maintenance of genetically domesticated plants and/or animals (e.g. petting zoos, farms)

Note: Organizations with collections that include both eligible and ineligible categories and otherwise meet all program criteria are eligible only for assistance in areas relating to the natural heritage portions of their collections and public service programs.


The application window for new five-year contracts will open in September 2020 and close in January 2021. Grants will be awarded for a five-year period commencing on April 1, 2021 and expiring on March 31, 2026. Applicants will be asked to provide expenses for the period from April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2020. The expenses that may be included are defined in the Expense Guide for ZBGA 2021-26 RFA, available at the link below. Additional information will be made available in the 2021-2026 Request for Applications (RFA).


To apply for the 2021-26 ZBGA grant opportunity, your organization must be registeredLeaving New York State Parks in the Grants Gateway. Only applications submitted through the New York State Grants GatewayLeaving New York State Parks will be accepted. All not-for-profit applicants must be PrequalifiedLeaving New York State Parks.


Application Deadline: January 15, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. EST
Review and Site visits: Spring/Summer 2021
Award/Decision Letters: Winter 2021-22
Contracting: Early 2022
Initial Payment: Mid-2022 (projected for June, following contract execution)



Reimbursement requests comprise: a State Aid Voucher, an expense report, and backup for all expenses. Backup can take various forms including, but not limited to, copies of receipts, paystubs, paycheck copies, and printouts from reporting applications. Requests should be submitted by e-mail to the Community Programs Unit. Reimbursement cannot occur prior to contract execution and receipt by the Agency of a valid request.

Reimbursements will be processed through the Statewide Financial System via Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer. In some cases, an ACH transfer may combine multiple grant reimbursement(s) with payments from other NYS programs or agencies. Detailed payment information can be obtained using the NYS Vendor Self-Service PortalLeaving New York State Parks (select "Vendor Portal Login").


This program is administered by the Community Programs Unit of the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning.