Facts about the Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden

Oklahoma City Zoo LogoThe Zoo is dedicated to the preservation of the Earth's natural resources through conservation, education, awareness and scientific research.

The Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the Southwest.

In 1902, the Zoo received its first donated animal and opened as a small menagerie. On Labor Day 1903, the Zoo had a formal dedication at Wheeler Park. The Zoo celebrates 1904 as the Zoo's first full year of business.

The Zoo features a diverse and fascinating animal and plant collection spread across more than 119 acres.

The Zoo is one of only seven zoos with the distinction of being a fully accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) as both a living museum and a botanical garden.

The Zoo is governed by the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust, a public trust created January 7, 1975, by the City Council of Oklahoma City.

In July 1990, Oklahoma City voters passed a one-eighth cent sales tax appropriation to the Zoo.

The Zoo hit an attendance record for the 2010-2011 fiscal year totaling 982,721 guests. Three years later, the Zoo surpassed one million guests for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  The Tracy family from Hobart was the one millionth visitor.

The Zoo has approximately 150 full-time employees and, depending on the season of the year, as many as 175 part-time employees.

The Zoo is home to the only museum of its kind in the country, the Patricia and Byron J. Gambulos ZooZeum, a place where the public can experience the zoological and botanical memories encountered at the Zoo for more than 100 years.

The Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., only closing on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's days.

Communications and social media tools of the Zoo include its website at www.okczoo.com; Twitter at @okczoo; Facebook at okczoo.com/facebookblg; the ZooNews e-newsletter; and the ZooSounds membership magazine.

Zoo Animal Collection

The Zoo is home to approximately 1,900 of the world's most exotic animals, including 54 endangered or threatened species through cooperation with the AZA's Species Survival Plans.

The Zoo is home to more than 500 species of animals, including 87 species of mammals, 117 species of birds, 153 species of reptiles and amphibians; and 155 species of fish, aquatic invertebrates and marine mammals.

The Zoo’s enrichment program allows the animals to participate in various natural behaviors where Zoo caretakers design and implement food items or items that enable animals to emulate foraging and play. At selected events throughout the year, the enrichment behaviors are available for public viewing.

For further facts about Zoo animals, click here.

Zoo Plant Collection

The Zoo promotes plant education, research and collection development.

Completed in 1996, the Zoo has the largest, walk-through outdoor Butterfly Garden in Oklahoma, comprising 21,000 square feet.

In 1998, the Zoo received AAM accreditation as both a living museum and botanical garden.

The Zoo includes more than 30,000 specimens of flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, narcissus, iris and ornamental onions every spring.

The Zoo is home to over 20 designated horticultural displays and collections. Identification plaques and labels distinguish significant plants throughout Zoo grounds.

The Zoo includes more than 100 Oklahoma native species, 22 of which are listed as imperiled or rare.

For further facts on Zoo plants, click here.

Zoo Education Facts

Through its Education Department, the Zoo connects students to the natural world, using the Zoo as a living classroom to teach science and critical-thinking skills, while growing curiosity about animals and nature. The programs also incorporate skills in reading, writing, math and observation. 

Education programs meet teacher curriculum needs by meeting PASS and NSES standards.  The Zoo provides on-loan resources for teachers.

Education programs are designed for children from preschool age through grade 12, as well as young adults, families and senior adults. Handicap accessible classes can be arranged for special needs students.

The Zoo provides a Zoomobile for its outreach programs where trained Zoo educators provide classes onsite at schools or organizations, complete with live animals that reinforce the concepts of the program.

The Zoo offers grants through OZS for preschoolers through high school students as well as youth and adult organizations to offset the cost of Zoo education classes.

The Zoo provides several programs for young adults to gain in-depth, hands-on experience working in the zoo profession. These include a nonpaid college Internship Program, a day-long high school Job Shadow Program and a Junior Curator Volunteer Program.

Educational resources include: 1 sand lot, 1 spray park, 3 outdoor playgrounds, 7 naturalist instructors, 8 indoor classrooms, 9 Zoo attractions, 42 classroom animals and countless lessons, activities, games and memories.

The Zoo invites members of the community to join the Zoo team as a valuable volunteer in the areas of animal husbandry, education, corporate groups, horticulture, special events, community service requirements, and volunteer divers.

Zoo Conservation Efforts

Through conservation, research and education, the Zoo aids in numerous local, national and international conservation projects to support imperiled species, habitats and their surrounding communities.

Currently the Zoo is working with 54 endangered or threatened species and 45 Species Survival Plans (SSP).

The Zoo works with the AZA and other wildlife institutions to participate in SSPs to ensure the genetic diversity, health and survivability of species from around the world through breeding programs and population management.

The Zoo houses a branch office of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation that collaborates with the Zoo on many conservation projects, such as surveying bat species found on Oklahoma Wildlife Management Areas.

Bowling For Rhinos is a national annual event with proceeds benefiting rhino conservation. Oklahoma City’s American Association of ZooKeepers (AAZK) chapter has contributed more than $250,000 to this cause from the event since 1992.

The Zoo is the first zoo to start Gorilla Golf, a fundraising project of the AAZK with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Tayna Gorilla Reserve in Africa.

The Zoo provides the Conservation Action Now (CAN) small grant program.  Grants are awarded each December based on proposal merit and in accordance with conservation education, scientific research and species preservation.

For a complete list of Zoo conservation efforts, click here.

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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.

A New Breath of Fresh Air: As of Nov. 1, 2007, state law prohibits smoking inside zoological parks. Please help us abide by this law by refraining from smoking within the Zoo. Thank you for maintaining a smoke-free environment for all living things!