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At the OKC Zoo, Go Wild!

Category: Conservation Efforts

Fishing for Plastic: Employees Volunteer to Clean Up Zoo Lake

McKinly Dortch is a senior Environmental Science major at Oklahoma State University. This summer, she served as the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden's sustainability intern. She documented efforts to help remove plastic waste and other debris from Zoo Lake. For the second time this year, OKC Zoo employees came together to clean the debris, much of it single-use plastic, out of Northeast Lake (also known as Zoo Lake). The housekeeping team led the lake clean-up and many... Read More
at Tuesday, September 3, 2019
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Diving Into Recycling: Waste Audits Continue at OKC Zoo

McKinley Dortch is a senior Environmental Science major at Oklahoma State University. This summer, she served as the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden's sustainability intern. Dortch documented her work assisting in internal waste audits. Growing up in Edmond, some of my favorite memories were playing in creeks and being in nature. Fast forward to college I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I kept coming back to wanting to do something for the environment. There are... Read More
at Monday, August 26, 2019
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Choose to Refuse: Join the OKC Zoo and Take the "Plastic Free July" Pledge

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden wants YOU to kick your single-use plastic habitat as part of a global “Plastic Free July” challenge. Plastic items like grocery bags, straws and coffee cups are creating huge ecological harm, especially in oceans and other aquatic habitats. This includes our streams, rivers and lakes in Oklahoma where plastic trash is a common sight. As of July 1, the Zoo’s 145-member “Plastic Free July” team is in 12 th place out... Read More
at Tuesday, July 2, 2019
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Notes from the Field: Holly Ray Reports on Flamingo Rescue in South Africa

OKC Zoo Assistant Birds Curator Holly Ray shares her conservation field work experience rescuing flamingos in South Africa... In January, a severe drought dried out Kamfers Dam which is located in Kimberly, South Africa. Kamfers Dam is a very important breeding site for lesser flamingos, it is the location of one of only four lesser flamingo breeding sites in Africa. Due to the lack of water at the dam, adult flamingos abandoned their nests leaving nearly 2,000 eggs and flamingo... Read More
at Monday, April 15, 2019
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Notes from the Field: Employees of a Feather Survey Together

While it is certainly true that many species of birds in North America fly to warmer climates when the temperatures begin to drop, there are still many more that stay at their homes year-round! This February, I was lucky enough to join three Zoo employees and three employees from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) on a conservation journey to Robbers Cave State Park and James Collins Wildlife Management Area in Eastern Oklahoma... Read More
at Tuesday, March 12, 2019
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Conservation Update: Field Report from OKC Zoo-Supported Turtle Research Project in Belize

Last month, the OKC Zoo received a field research update from University of Oklahoma graduate student Elyse Ellsworth who the Zoo is funding to study Central American river turtles (aka hicatee) in Belize. Elyse is capturing wild hicatee and placing radio-transmitters on them to track their movements. This is not easy to do considering these turtles spend most of their time underwater – making them hard to find and hard to track because the transmitter only sends data when... Read More
at Thursday, February 28, 2019
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Simple Change Reduces Plastic Use, Saves Money at OKC Zoo

By purchasing concentrated bleach in bulk and training its staff to dilute and refill existing bottles, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is saving more than $2,000 and keeping almost 500 single-use plastic containers out of landfills each year. As part of a Zoo-wide effort to eliminate single-use plastics, Barry Downer, deputy director, identified bleach usage as an easy target for improvement. The Zoo safely uses bleach as a cleaner and disinfection in its animal... Read More
at Thursday, January 31, 2019
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Hold the Straw, Please... OKC Zoo Staff Join Plastic-Free Challenge

We touch things made of plastic hundreds of times in our daily lives. Plastic is so common that most people think nothing of using a plastic item once, and then tossing it away. How many plastic bags, straws, lids, bottles, forks, cups have you used once and thrown away? The average American throws away 185 pounds of plastic a year. That’s half a pound of plastic a day from every one of us! Only 8 percent of the plastic used in the U.S. is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills or is... Read More
at Wednesday, August 29, 2018
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Round Up for Conservation Update

“Would you like to Round Up for Conservation?” Guests at the OKC Zoo have become accustomed to hearing that phrase when they purchase a ticket, an item at the gift shop or a meal at one of the Zoo’s food and beverage locations. But what does it mean and how does it help fulfill the Zoo’s mission to connect people and the world’s vanishing wildlife and wild places? Round Up for Conservation is a grassroots program created to allow Zoo guests to become... Read More
at Monday, August 13, 2018
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Butterflies Tagged at OKC Zoo Discovered in Mexico

Two monarchs tagged at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden last fall were recovered in Mexico! One was a male tagged on Oct 2, 2017 and found on Feb 20, 2018 in El Rosario. The second, a female tagged on Oct 5, 2017, was found on Feb 10, 2018 in Sierra Chincua. The OKC Zoo Education and Horticulture teams dedicated many hours over a three week period last fall to tag 60 total monarchs. The total number of tag recoveries was 928. It’s amazing that two of those were from the OKC Zoo!... Read More
at Monday, July 9, 2018
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Saving Turtles, Building a Friendship

Saving the world's vanishing wildlife and wild places is a monumental task no matter which way you look at it. As hard as we try, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens is not able to achieve this goal alone. Luckily we have amazing conservation legacy partners that we work with, both locally and globally, that help us fight for the species and habitats that are incapable of fighting for themselves. One of those partners is the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) which works to prevent... Read More
at Monday, June 18, 2018
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Notes from the Field: OKC Zoo's Liz McCrae Documents Tortoise Rescue Efforts in Madagascar

      In April, over 10,000 critically endangered radiated tortoises were discovered by local police in a private residence in Madagascar. Nearly every room in the house was filled with tortoises without access to food or water. It is believed that the tortoises were collected for the illegal pet trade, likely for shipment to Asia where the tortoises’ highly-domed shell, featuring a brilliant star pattern, makes them incredibly valuable. The Turtle Survival... Read More
at Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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OKC Zoo Trumpeter Swan Released in the Wild as Part of Population Restoration Efforts

When Kevin Drees, director of animal collections, joined the Oklahoma City Zoo last year, he didn’t just relocate his wife and children to the Sooner state, he also brought a family of trumpeter swans. The bonded pair, Sam and Olivia, and their unnamed male cygnet, hatched in June 2017, were his families’ personal swans who had long-inhabited a lake on their property. On Thursday, May 10, 2018, the male cygnet, just shy of his first birthday, was released into the wild as part of... Read More
at Friday, May 11, 2018
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New at the OKC Zoo: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Now Active, Free to Guests

Guests visiting the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden can now charge their vehicles at no cost at one of three charging stations located along the northwest side of the recently renovated parking lot. These spaces are reserved for Zoo guests driving electric or e-assist vehicles and are located just a few steps away from the main entrance. In addition to the charging stations, the recently renovated parking lot features highly efficient LED lighting and native, drought-resistant... Read More
at Monday, April 23, 2018
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OKC Zoo Joins Global Effort to Save Giraffes

Giraffes are experiencing a “silent” extinction crisis. Until recently, they were considered common throughout much of their African range and their numbers were not being well-monitored. In the last five years, however, experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group compiled population data and discovered that the wild giraffe population has declined by 40 percent in the last 30 years. Habitat destruction and poaching... Read More
at Thursday, April 5, 2018
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Birthday Parties and Events at the OKC Zoo Moving Toward Zero Waste Goal

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has been a favorite birthday party destination for decades. With a variety of locations for gatherings throughout the OKC Zoo and options for groups of almost any size, it’s a wild place to celebrate with friends and family. And now, the goal is to make these celebrations zero waste events. Plates, cups and flatware at the Zoo’s birthday parties are now made completely of compostable materials. Eventually, these biodegradable materials... Read More
at Wednesday, March 28, 2018
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OKC Zoo Team Reports on Kenya Conservation Journey, Part 2

Amy Hofmeister, elephant caretaker, and Gretchen Cole, veterinarian, spent two weeks in Kenya assisting the Grevy’s Zebra Trust census of endangered Grevy’s zebras. The Trust received a grant from the OKC Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation fund to support their program that employs members of local communities to monitor and collect data on the zebras year-round. In this second and final part of a blog series, Dr. Gretchen Cole shares her experience from Kenya. Kenya has... Read More
at Wednesday, February 28, 2018
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OKC Zoo Team Reports on Zimbabwe Conservation Journey

Starting in 2017, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden partnered with the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) to support their conservation mission. The PDRT director, Dr. Greg Rasmussen, has worked for almost two decades protecting and studying the African painted dog, an endangered species with fewer than 7,000 left in the wild. To further support the PDRT, the Zoo sent two employees on a conservation trip to Zimbabwe in November to participate in research and (attempt) to track and... Read More
at Monday, January 22, 2018
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Ornate Tortoises in Trouble: Zoo Helping to Save Species

In the Northwest corner of Madagascar lives a species of tortoise with a shell so highly domed and ornate that you might think they came straight out of the mind of a cartoonist. But the Ploughshare tortoise is very real and very rare. It is also the largest and, arguably, the most beautiful of Madagascar's four endemic species of tortoises. Their domed shell and golden color have made them a highly prized pet throughout Asia--so highly prized, in fact, that the illegal pet trade... Read More
at Thursday, May 11, 2017
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Become a Parent of the Wild: Animal Adoption is for Everyone!

Unlike traditional pet adoption “days” celebrated around the world or the recent National Pet Adoption Weekend celebrated each May, the Zoo celebrates animal adoption all year long—the soft and plush kind that lasts a lifetime!  A Zoo animal adoption is a unique gift that your loved ones, regardless of age, will be thrilled to have and collect. Animal adoptions not only create a sense of warmth and joy for the receiver, but they also benefit the lives of all the... Read More
at Wednesday, May 10, 2017
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Hotel Armadillo

Tracking Down the Elusive Builder of Burrows Most of us in the southern and southeastern United States are familiar with the armadillo. While the smaller, nine-banded armadillo is thriving and expanding across much of the country, its lesser-known relative, the giant armadillo, is facing threats to survival in its native habitat across South America. The Oklahoma City Zoo is proud to support conservation biologist Dr. Arnaud Desbiez and the Giant Armadillo Conservation Program to help study... Read More
at Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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Trade in Those Online Surveys for the Outdoor Kind

We are inundated with them. Surveys on the phone, online and even in the mall. But surveys can help us determine populations, income, poverty, housing and more. This data tracks the health of people groups and living conditions, various consumer and eating habits, and a host of other demographic and economic trends. Partners Team Up to Count Did you know that many of the world’s conservation efforts depend on surveys? Surveys provide the information we need to properly care for... Read More
at Friday, March 24, 2017
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Zoo Pledges to Benefit Local Lands and Waters

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Oklahoma City Zoo recently formed a legacy conservation partnership to support scientific research conducted at TNC preserves in Oklahoma. The Zoo established a science and research fund with TNC that the Zoo will contribute to annually over the next five years. Funds for the partnership are primarily generated from the Oklahoma Zoological Society and the sale of ZOOfriends’ memberships.  “Oklahoma is a beautiful, unique state that is... Read More
at Thursday, January 19, 2017
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