ZOOfriends, the OKC Zoo and the Junior League of Oklahoma City (JLOC) spent more than a year laying the groundwork for the renovation of the Eleanor Kirkpatrick Jungle Gym, undertaken in honor of JLOC's 90th anniversary. In 2004, the same organizations joined forces to create the 30,000 square foot playground.
Much of the project's focus was on making the Jungle Gym more accessible, and this included the addition of an “Ability Whirl”, allowing children in wheelchairs to use the merry-go-round. The playground has been expanded to include a new "Expression Swing" which allows an adult to swing with a child. There are new components such as the "Climinator" and the "Wobbler" which will be great fun for children in our ages 5-12 area.
Other updates included a refreshed, original mural designed by Oklahoma City author, artist Margaret Hoge, featuring animals like lions and zebras found at the Zoo.
There were 660 volunteers who contributed a total of 5,161 hours over four days to renovate the Jungle Gym at the Oklahoma City Zoo. They continued working on the project during days marred by unexpectedly frigid temperatures and biting winds to enhance the Zoo experience for all children, particularly those with disabilities.
Despite the bad weather, a sense of teamwork and community was omnipresent during the build, with an atmosphere of positivity and can-do enthusiasm. The steering committee from JLOC exemplified this spirit in their leadership, inspiring everyone to do their best work and ensuring the project was executed with precision.
This was a grassroots project that will benefit its residents for years to come as hundreds of community sponsors helped make the renovations a reality with either financial support or by providing in-kind donations of building supplies, tools, equipment, construction captains, food, water and more.
“ZOOfriends and the OKC Zoo have had a long-standing successful partnership with the Junior League," said Tim Rasnic, Executive Director of ZOOfriends. "We appreciate their incredible organizational and planning effort that has such a positive impact upon all the children and families who visit the Zoo."