As the Oklahoma City Zoo’s animal family continues to grow with the arrival of tiger cubs, new trumpeter swans and the announcement of two BIG pregnancies–an Asian elephant and Western lowland gorilla, so does our ZOO!
The OKC Zoo has undergone tremendous transformation this year. With our new parking lot complete, new picnic grounds opening this fall and Sanctuary Asia opening summer 2018, the Zoo is evolving rapidly to fulfill our mission to be Oklahoma’s premiere destination for connecting people with wildlife and wild places. These transformations are just the beginning. The Zoo is currently finalizing a new master site plan that prioritizes our major capital projects over the next 5 to 7 years, and outlines bold new ways we can better achieve our mission.
Throughout the master plan process, the OKC Zoo will not only pursue ideas for new habitats and guest experiences but execute change to existing habitats like the Noble Aquatic Center, otherwise known as Aquaticus. This November, the Zoo will close the aquarium galleries at Aquaticus. The upgrades necessary to bring the 30-year-old aquarium habitats and associated support areas to or above accreditation standards would be prohibitively expensive.
Because we strive for the highest standards for our existing and planned habitats, we have decided to close the 32 aquariums and transfer the fish and other animals to other zoos and aquariums. It’s important to stress that only the aquariums on the lower levels will be closing this November. The upper level of Aquaticus will continue to be home for seals and sea lions, and the sea lion presentations will continue daily.
Redeveloping the northernmost section of the Zoo including the Noble Aquatic Center will be part of this plan. We will share more specifics including the plan and timeline for the entire building as the master site plan is completed later this fall.
The decision to close these aquariums was not an easy one, but is required for us to fulfill our mission. The Zoo is still committed to educating guests of aquatic life here in Oklahoma and around the world and will continue to emphasize our sea lions, stingrays, and aquatic exhibits featured in Oklahoma Trails.
The Zoo is an Oklahoma Adventure Road partner and a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums and the Oklahoma City’s Adventure District. The Zoo has a strong social media presence. You can find Zoo happenings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and by visiting Our Stories.
--Greg Heanue, chief marketing officer/director of marketing and public relations