Conservation and sustainability are at the heart and soul of all of our Oklahoma City Zoo team members. Recently, OKC Zoo leadership announced the first-ever Conservation and Sustainability Heroes. The OKC Zoo values team members who are committed to caring for, connecting with and conserving wildlife and wild places, and created this internal program to annually recognize personnel who engage in acts that directly impact conservation and sustainability. While every employee at the Zoo is dedicated to conservation, these heroes are truly leading by example.
The OKC Zoo’s 2022 Conservation and Sustainability Heroes
Conservation Hero: Brad Lock / As part of his passion and love for reptiles and amphibians, Brad helped start the Foundation for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Guatemala, or FUNDESGUA. This community-based organization helps protect wild populations of the Guatemalan beaded lizard and Campbell’s alligator lizard all while supporting community resilience and development. As part of the efforts of FUNDESGUA, the population of these endangered lizards has increased dramatically from an estimated 200 individuals to 1,000 individuals and the protected acres for these species has increased from 100 to 6,500 acres!
Conservation Hero Runner-up: Crystal Butler / Crystal’s enthusiasm for conservation is evident by her participation and leadership in conservation programs and projects. Crystal holds a leadership role with the American Association of Zoo Keepers and is a champion fundraiser. She has participated or chaired the annual fundraiser Bowling for Rhinos for 10 years, oversees OktoBEARfest each year to help raise funds for bear conservation and organized the “Ape-ril” fundraiser for cross-river gorillas.
Sustainability Hero: Michelle Gruneisen / Michelle’s passion for sustainability has helped decrease waste and increase environmental awareness in the elephant team. She has improved recycling efforts in the team by creating a system to recycle plastic bags and utilizing a Terracycle program for backs and wrappers. Michelle has reduced waste overall by utilizing compostable bags for trunk washes, replacing paper towels with hand towels in the kitchen and replacing cutlery with a reusable option. These changes have diverted roughly 2,500 plastic bags and 450 60mL syringes from the landfill each year.
We are grateful to our everyday Conservation and Sustainability Heroes for their continued dedication at the Zoo and its mission!