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Posted by Candice Rennels on 02/01/2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                February 1, 2013


CONTACTS:  Tara Henson:  (405) 425-0219 (O), (405) 919-9038 (C) or [email protected]

                     Candice Rennels:   (405) 425-0298 (O), (405) 412-6172 (C) or [email protected]



           The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden proudly announces Nick Newby, pachyderm supervisor, as the 2012 Ralph D. Harris Employee of the Year. The Employee of the Year award is selected annually by the Zoo’s Employee Recognition Committee and management staff.

           Around the Zoo, Nick Newby is known as “Pachy 1” a name fitting for someone whose passion in life is working with pachyderms, especially elephants. Nick began his zoo career in 2001 at the former Little River Zoo in Norman, Oklahoma. He also worked at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia, from 2002 to 2006 before joining the Oklahoma City Zoo’s animal division in 2006.  He worked briefly as a keeper in the Zoo’s Children’s Zoo before transferring to the pachyderm department. Nick is responsible for the daily care of the Zoo’s pachyderms, including Black and Great Indian rhinoceros, a pygmy hippopotamus, and the Zoo’s herd of Asian elephants: Rex, Asha, Chandra and Malee. He and his team oversee all husbandry management for these animals, including the continuous development of enrichment, training and breeding programs for each species. Through collaborative efforts with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos, the Zoo participates in Species Survival Plans (SSP), cooperative breeding programs for Black and Indian rhinos and Asian elephants. The pachyderm team works diligently to support these programs by partaking in numerous rhino and elephant health care studies that are contributing to the population stability for these amazing creatures. 

            During his tenure at the Zoo, Nick and his team have shared many successes including the opening of the Elephant Habitat in March 2011 and the exciting addition of Rex, a bull elephant, to the herd in December 2011. The Elephant Habitat was a Zoo-wide effort and the pachyderm team actively participated in numerous planning sessions offering valuable feedback to the design team who constructed the state-of-the-art exhibit. But the greatest triumph for the team was the birth of Malee, the first elephant born in the Zoo’s history on April 15, 2011. The Zoo’s long-term commitment to the AZA’s elephant SSP continued to gain momentum with years dedicated to the preservation of this endangered species.  From daily training sessions and health check ups to overnight observations, the preparation for the breeding and eventual successful birth of Malee came to fruition. The entire team demonstrated incredible drive and dedication to ensure the arrival of a healthy calf. Malee’s birth was a memorable event celebrated by millions!

           “Nick’s enthusiasm for what he does is always evident.” said Dwight Scott, Zoo executive director/CEO. “Teamwork and leadership go hand in hand with Nick and I appreciate the passion that he shares daily with his work.” 

           Nick graduated from Anadarko High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southern Nazarene University. He and his wife, Robin, have two boys and are expecting a third child this summer. Nick and his family reside in Edmond.

           Located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, recognized as one of the top three family friendly zoos in the nation and the state’s #1 attraction, the Oklahoma City Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with exhibit buildings closing at 4:45 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages three to 11 and seniors age 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. On Mondays in January and February, admission is free for guests of all ages. Are you a Zoo fan?  Find us at To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit



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The Zoo is a fully accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Association of Museums (AAM) as both a living museum and a botanical garden. AZA accredited facilities are dedicated to providing excellent care for their plants and animals, a great experience for guests and a better future for all living things.

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