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Meet the PR Department

Spotlight On: The Marketing/PR Department


Meet the Marketing and Public Relations Department! This group of dedicated staff members (check out how long some of them have worked at the Zoo) work every day to share information about the Zoo, our animals, our events and our conservation programs. This team coordinates Haunt the Zoo elements such as purchasing candy and monitoring the inventory, pumpkin donations, sponsor needs,  coordinating volunteers and making sure everyone knows that the Zoo is the place to be for trick-or-treating!

 

Name: Tara Henson
Title: Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Tenure at the Zoo: 20 years
Residence: Oklahoma City

What are your specific duties during Haunt the Zoo?

Sponsor liaison, media maven, pumpkin and candy wrangler, volunteer helper, you name it, we do it! Together, as a team zoowide it’s our goal to provide a wonderful and magical time for kids and families and there’s no place like the Zoo for Halloween. Period.

What is your favorite part of Haunt the Zoo each year?

Working with a great team and seeing the fruits of our labor in action when the families and kids “ooh and ahh” over the festivities. Everyone’s a kid during Haunt the Zoo and Halloween! Plus, my mom volunteers every year and then we have a slumber party afterwards as part of our time together!

Which Haunt the Zoo booth is your favorite and why?

They’re all so cool! Superheroes are super! Fortune Tellers has a cool snake lady and lots of shiny bling! Wizards is very magical with all of the bright colors and potions. Oh, and I love the sparkly dragon with smoky breath and the Pirates and…so many favorites!

What do you love the most about your job/working at the Zoo?

The people, animals and plants. I work with great people and we have fun doing what we do. So many professionals who smile and work hard on behalf of wildlife.  Plus, we’re a botanical garden and I love how beautiful the seasons are at the Zoo. It’s awesome!

What are your favorite animals at the Zoo and why?

I can’t play favorites. But, I loved Judy the elephant and Mathilda, “Tillie” the hippo for so many reasons. Others: Brofy, a bodacious bush dog, Cindy, Zoe & Siri the chimps, Malee, her mom and aunt, Will & Wiley the grizzlies, Delmer, the senior spectacled bear, all birds, frogs, toads. There are so many magnificent animals with special stories, it’s hard to say that I have favorites. I also have favorite plants on grounds such as the ginko tree near the Jungle Gym, the lacebark elm in the Children’s Zoo and all of the wildflowers and butterfly attractants are fantastic.

 

Name: Candice Rennels
Title: Manager of Marketing and Public Relations
Tenure at the Zoo: 10 years part-time, 10 years full time
Residence: Mustang, OK

What are your specific duties during Haunt the Zoo?

I purchase the candy, always striving to find palm oil free product. I coordinate the more than 900 volubnteers from our sponsors and community volunteers to fill all 21 booths.

What is your favorite Haunt the Zoo memory?

My favorite memory was when I literally had ten family members here one night to help, including my 80-plus year-old grandparents, mom, dad, brother, sisters, husband and aunt. Some traveled from as far as Kansas City. Not only did we have a great time spending time together and supporting the event, but it was just great to know that they supported me and the Zoo.

Which Haunt the Zoo booth is your favorite and why?

It’s a newer booth, but the Superheroes booth is now my favorite because it is the favorite of my little boy, Riley, who comes out to trick or treat each year.

What do you love the most about your job/working at the Zoo?

I love the people I work with and the work that we do. I love being part of an organization that is working to protect species, especially now as a mom knowing that there are now animals that may be extinct and my kids might not get to see that the Zoo is working to save those species.

What are your favorite animals at the Zoo and why?

Will and Wiley the grizzly bear brothers because I love their story. They were saved from the wild after being orphaned and brought here to the Zoo.  Everyone in the city and state embraced them and we were able to watch them grow up here. They have the best personalities and are a lot of fun to watch during enrichments. 

 

Name: Diana Jones
Title: Public Relations Technician
Tenure at the Zoo: 2.5 years
Residence: Norman, OK 

What are your specific duties during Haunt the Zoo?

I help in lots of different ways, including creating new pages and event listings for Haunt the Zoo on our Web site. In fact, I made this PR feature page! I also write promotional materials such as press releases.  Since I am seven months pregnant and on “light duty” this year, I’m helping out by answering phones and working in the main office. In previous years I have helped with volunteer coordination, and we all always pitch in to load and unload candy during the event.

What is your favorite part of Haunt the Zoo each year?

It sounds strange but I actually love hauling candy boxes! It’s a great workout and a fun challenge. I also really enjoy wandering the trick-or-treat trail and snapping photos of the kids in their cool costumes!

Which Haunt the Zoo booth is your favorite and why?

I love the pirate booth! The volunteers come up with the neatest costumes for that booth. Mother Goose runs a close second – come trick-or-treat time you’ll find my mother and grandmother passing out candy dressed as “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”

What do you love the most about your job/working at the Zoo?

I love the message the Zoo sends as a whole about animal conservation and caring for the environment. Just working here has caused me to re-think so many parts of my own life in an effort to be more “green” and reduce my environmental impact. I also get the chance to be very creative and do a lot of writing, which I love! Plus, where else can you go visit endangered species on your lunch break?

What are your favorite animals at the Zoo and why?

This is a hard question! I am always fascinated by the Great Apes and love watching them interact with each other. You can walk up to the glass and look Tatu the silverback gorilla in the eye and can see him looking back and thinking about you. I am also totally in love with Malee the elephant calf but really, who isn’t?

 

Name: Kevin Irwin
Title: Guest Relations/Receptionist
Tenure at the Zoo: 6 years part-time, 1.5 years full-time
Residence: Midwest City, OK

What are your specific duties during Haunt the Zoo?

During Haunt the Zoo I get to help with a little bit of everything! From helping up at the Guest Relations desk to helping deliver candy to the different booths before and during the event.  

What is your favorite part of Haunt the Zoo each year?

My favorite part of Haunt the Zoo definitely has to be seeing everyone in all of the different costumes! Every year you get to see thousands of different and unique costumes, which is always fun to see!

Which Haunt the Zoo booth is your favorite and why?

Definitely the Snoopy Red Baron booth! I’ve always loved Snoopy growing up and our Graphics department has done an amazing job making that booth look awesome!

What do you love the most about your job/working at the Zoo?

I think the best thing about my job is that every day is completely different. I get to work with a lot of really awesome people and on a lot of different projects/events. There’s not too many jobs where you can walk down and see baby tigers during your lunch break!

What are your favorite animals at the Zoo and why?

My favorite animal has to be Delmer the Spectacled Bear! I don’t know what it is about him, but every time I drive on that side of the Zoo I have to stop down there and check him out! He’s just an awesome guy!

 

The Guest Relations Team

A special thanks to our team of part-time Guest Relations staffers! These helpful folks can be found in the Guest Relations office answering phone calls, helping guests and dealing with any issues that might arise. 

    

                Kendra Tam Claire Henthorn Lisa Lee




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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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