Strap on your wings, runners! This year, the Oklahoma City Zoo is hosting a fun race to raise funds for monarch butterfly conservation! The OKC Zoo’s Monarch Madness 5k and 1-mile Fun Run will take place on September 23.
"We’re calling this Monarch Madness partly because the idea of any creature, let alone a butterfly, flying over 2,000 miles just sounds insane,” said Greg Heanue, Zoo senior director of marketing and public relations. “It’s also maddening to learn that the monarch population has declined so quickly.”
Every year, monarch butterflies make the long migration from Canada to Mexico. But in recent years, the population of this adored species has dropped by 90 percent due to habitat loss and widespread pesticide use. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, which is the only plant their caterpillars will eat. The adult butterflies feed on nectar from many types of flowering plants. All net proceeds from the run will go toward the Zoo’s education programs and local conservation partnerships that encourage communities to plant and protect the florae that monarchs need to thrive.
Just like the monarchs’ migration, the 5K itself is expected to be a visual spectacle! The course is designed to represent the monarchs’ impressive journey from Canada to Mexico with each 1K marker depicting the sights and sounds of iconic locations along the way. Runners will dive past Niagara Falls, fly by Chi-town, dash through Nashville, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and finally flutter into Mexico. We implore all participants to dress whacky and wear their wings as they will represent the migratory monarchs in this spectacular event!
Discovering the Zoo’s Secret Park
The new course is specially designed for an officially timed race. The 5K will begin outside of the Zoo, continue along a one-mile loop through the park on the east side of the scenic lake and finish inside the Zoo’s gates.
“Most visitors don’t know the Zoo has a 30-acre park that is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Barry Downer, Zoo deputy director/COO. “Built in 1932, the park is a hidden gem with hundreds of established trees and dozens of picnic tables.”
Register to Race Today!
The Monarch Madness 5k and Fun Run is limited to 1,500 participants. The registration fee is $25 for kids 12 and under and $35 for everyone 13 and older. Registration includes a free T-shirt, timed bib, finishers’ medal and entry into the Zoo and Monarch Festival for the day.
Visit okczoo.org for more details and registration.