The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently earned a prestigious accreditation from Botanical Garden Conservation International (BGCI). The Zoo’s botanical garden is a longtime member of BGCI, an organization created in 1987 to promote plant conservation by linking the botanical gardens of the world into a global network.
The botanical garden’s five-year accreditation means the facility is certified as an official BGCI botanical garden. This brings with it a new plant conservation standard for the Zoo and recognizes the garden as one that conforms to the highest international standards for plant collections and botanical research. The OKC Zoo is only the fifth botanical garden to receive this accreditation within the United States and the eleventh to internationally.
Botanical garden members can share their collections with each other for research purposes and conservation efforts whether the trade be in genetic material, seeds, or living plants.
BGCI offers three botanical garden accreditation categories each that require extensive documentation and follow high-quality criteria for attainment. The application process is quite lengthy and examples of documentation from several categories must be submitted such as peer reviewed articles, plant research, conservation practices and collection planning processes.
The Zoo’s botanical garden encompasses over 120 acres where exotic animals roam over the landscapes, under a canopy of flowering trees, forested groves and wildflower meadows. Come visit the largest collection of Oklahoma native plants nestled securely within the historic cross timbers ecosystem. This remarkable ecosystem, where the eastern deciduous forest meets the tall grass prairie, is the cornerstone of the botanical garden and sets the tone for a purely unmatched native botanical experience. Our Oklahoma native plant collection contains over 100 species some of which are listed as rare or imperiled.
The botanical garden also hosts the largest outdoor butterfly garden in Oklahoma! The butterfly garden covers over 21,000 square feet and showcases pollinator plants, nectar pants, and host plants which serve to educate our guests on the importance of pollinators and monarch migration. Plants displayed in our botanical collection include species from North America, Australia, Asia, Africa and South America. The Zoo first achieved national accreditation as a botanical garden in 1998 through the American Alliance of Museums.
-Lance Swearengin, Horticultural Curator