Gone Fishin' - OKC Zoo Entry Plaza Now Home to Aquarium with Native Species

The Oklahoma City Zoo fish team is excited to announce that through a partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), we now have more native fishes! Each year, the ODWC hosts the Wildlife Expo—a free event for everyone to learn more about Oklahoma’s native species. Many people would find it unbelievable, but their biologists created transportable aquariums so that they can bring live fish to the Expo.

Our team had been planning on collecting new creatures for our native exhibits, but hadn’t quite figured out the most efficient way to do so. Taking a shot in the dark, we stopped by the ODWC office and met with Mark Howery to ask what they thought about potentially partnering up with us. To our surprise, Mark and his team members had an idea—the fishes from the Expo! Through many emails and phone calls, the plans were set: Mark and his team would collect the fish for the Expo on September 20th, they would be on display from the 21st-23rd, and we could go pick them up the evening of September 23rd when the Expo was over. Normally, the ODWC teams drive the fishes back to the streams they collected them from and release them, but instead, this year we took them off their hands.  

We gained nearly 15 new species through this exciting ordeal! These new fish will be split between two tanks: the 16,000-gallon exhibit located in Oklahoma Trails, and our new 300-gallon exhibit located in Guest Services. All of the new creatures are now in Quarantine, meaning they must be isolated from our current collection in order to identify any diseases/parasites/etc. and treat those accordingly. Since the Guest Services tank is new, there were no fish—meaning we were able to put some directly onto exhibit for guests to see and simultaneously execute Quarantine measures. The rest of the fish are currently in isolation pools behind the scenes awaiting their big debut into the Oklahoma Trails exhibit. Fun fact: To “pass” Quarantine, these fishes must be completely healthy and show no signs of disease for 30 consecutive days.

Some of the new species include: Red-bellied Dace, Logperch, Northern Hogsuckers, Longear sunfish, Rock bass, Bluegill, Green sunfish, Smallmouth bass, Spotted bass, Golden redhorse, Saugeye, and more. We are very pleased with this win-win situation for both the Oklahoma City Zoo as well as the ODWC. Be sure to check out the new fishes in Guest Services and Oklahoma Trails the next time you visit the Zoo!

A special shout-out to the ODWC members directly involved with this project: Mark Howery, Tony Rodger, Trevor Starks, Donnie King, Curtis Tackett, Jason Schooley, Brian Wheat, Clayton Porter and many more. We truly appreciate all the work you put into this and look forward to our future projects.

-Kasey Butler, fish caretaker

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