Monarch Madness Takes Flight at OKC Zoo

The Oklahoma City Zoo is mad for monarch butterflies! Again this year, the OKC Zoo is hosting two family-friendly events, Monarch Madness 5K/Fun Run and Monarch Festival, in its effort to raise awareness about and funds for monarch butterfly conservation. Presented by Bob Moore Subaru, the second annual Monarch Madness 5K/Fun Run on Saturday, October 6, will benefit local monarch butterfly conservation. Monarch butterflies are in peril as their population is estimated to have declined up to 80 percent over the last 20 years due to habitat loss and pesticide use.

Unlike other 5K runs, Monarch Madness is an officially timed run that includes a course simulating the journey monarchs take from Canada to Mexico with themed stops along the way. Runners will enjoy “flying” through Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, Zoo Lake park and crossing the finish line in front of the Zoo. The Zoo also encourages runners to come dressed in butterfly costumes and accessories! A limited number of costume butterfly wings will available for runners and supporters to purchase at packet pick-up and day-of at the Zoo.

All participants will receive a t-shirt, timed bib number, a finisher medal and free general admission into the Zoo that day. The 5K will begin at 8 a.m., the 1-mile Fun Run/Walk starts at 8:15 a.m., and check-in beginning at 6 a.m. for both events. Registration is $40 for adults and $30 for kids. Registration packets can be picked up at the Zoo the morning of the race or on Friday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Red Coyote Running and Fitness at 5720 N Classen Blvd. in Oklahoma City. To register, click here or visit www.okczoo.org to learn more.

The day’s festivities continue with the Monarch Festival from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The goal of the Monarch Festival is to educate Zoo guests about the decline of monarchs and to inspire them to take action to save these iconic species by learning how to attract them to public gardens, neighborhoods or their own backyard. Festival activities are free with Zoo admission and will take place in the entry plaza and around the Zoo’s Butterfly Garden, a 20,000 square-foot habitat designed to host monarchs and other pollinators. As the largest, walk-through outdoor butterfly garden in Oklahoma, the garden is a beautiful collection of more than 15,000 plants fashioned to sustain the complete life cycle of butterflies. Several conservation organizations including the Oklahoma Native Plant Society, the Kerr Center and Oklahoma Garden Clubs, will provide information and activities for guests of all ages.

Over forty organizations, including the Zoo, have teamed up to form the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative, called Okies for Monarchs. The organization’s goal is to encourage the planting of monarch-friendly plants along the species’ migration route. Oklahoma cities are taking the initiative to plant wildflowers along highways and replace native trees and flowers after major construction projects. As part of this effort, the Zoo recently awarded three grants to Oklahoma elementary schools to establish their own monarch gardens and train teachers on how to incorporate their new gardens into their science classes. Registration funds from Monarch Madness 5K/Fun Run support the monarch garden school grant programs. 

Interested in volunteering to help with the Monarch Madness 5K/Fun Run? Volunteers are needed to help in a variety of roles and will receive service hour documentation and two admission tickets to the OKC Zoo for their time. To learn more or to sign up, email volunteers@okczoo.org.

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