Wild About the Earth: Six Ways to Help Wildlife this Earth Day

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s mission is to connect you to wildlife, as we strive to conserve wild places. This Earth Day, we want to share six actions OKC Zoo fans can take to protect endangered species. We challenge you to complete at least one before the day is through, but remember – every day is Earth Day!

  1. Donate a cellphone to the Zoo’s Gorillas on the Line Cellphone Challenge

Join the OKC Zoo in its efforts to protect wild gorillas and their habitat by donating old or used cellphones to the Gorillas on the Line Cellphone Challenge now through Friday, September 24, 2021. Small electronics frequently contain a substance called coltan, and 80 percent of the world's coltan supply is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also home to many gorillas. Mining for coltan threatens the habitats of gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi and other endangered species. The coltan from these donated devices is re-used and reduces the need to mine for the compound in gorilla habitats.

Schools, organizations, businesses and individuals are encouraged to collect as many cellphones and electronics as they can in support of gorilla conservation. If you are interested in learning more about how to organize a community cellphone drive, click here. The Gorillas on the Line campaign goal for 2021 is 15,000+ mobile phones recycled. Working together, we definitely can do it! Donated items can be dropped off for recycling in the Zoo’s Guest Services office in the entry plaza. Masks are required for all guests 11 and older upon entry into Guest Services.

  1. Participate in the Pepsi Vending Machine Art Contest

Think big and go wild for recycling! The Zoo and Pepsi are calling on Oklahoma’s students, K-12, to participate in the Pepsi Vending Machine Art Contest for an opportunity to win prizes and have their original art design displayed on a Pepsi vending machine at the Zoo. Incorporating the contest theme, Go Wild for Recycling, students are asked to use their artistic talents to inspire others to recycle and contribute to a healthy environment.

Contest entries become property of the OKC Zoo and must be postmarked by Friday, April 30, 2021. Each of the contest’s grand prize winners (K-5 and 6-12) will have their design replicated on the cover of a Pepsi machine at the Zoo to be admired by guests for a year! Winners from all award categories will receive a certificate and have their designs on display at the OKC Zoo. For an entry form or contest details, visit okczoo.org/pepsicontest.

  1. Add an Animal Awareness Event to Your Calendar

The Zoo is celebrating International Flamingo Day and Marine Mammal Rescue Day this April! These animal awareness events are sponsored locally by Bob Moore Subaru:

  • Think pink and flock to the Zoo for International Flamingo Day on Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. International Flamingo Day is a global celebration that raises awareness for our planet’s iconic pink birds and the importance of protecting their native habitat. The Zoo’s animal family includes two of the six species of flamingos, American and Chilean, which guests have an opportunity to connect with daily during Flamingo Mingle. International Flamingo Day activities will take place in the Children’s Zoo near the flamingo habitat and include an information station, interactive activities for kids with prizes, photo opportunities and special Facebook live events with the Zoo’s bird caretakers at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Zoo guests are encouraged wear pink on International Flamingo Day and show their support for these beloved birds. All event activities are free with Zoo admission. For more information, visit okczoo.org.
  • The Zoo invites you to lend a helping flipper this Marine Mammal Rescue Day. In 2017, the Senate of the State of California declared April 27th to be Marine Mammal Rescue Day to bring attention to the increased number of marine mammals stranded on California shores, and the threats they face in the wild. Plastic pollution and climate change have a direct impact on fish populations, the main food source for California sea lions and seals. During this special day, learn how you can help all sea life and make a change for good. The OKC Zoo is home to seven California sea lions, including rescue animals Xander, Pearl and Isla, and two harbor seals. Event activities will be set up near the sea lion and Raptor Ridge habitats from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests will enjoy information stations, animal enrichment, interactive activities for kids with prizes, photo opportunities and special Facebook live events with the Zoo’s marine mammal caretakers at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Dive into more fun, attend the Zoo’s educational sea lion presentation at 1 p.m.
  1. Shop Smart! Make a Difference for Wild Orangutans

Palm oil is a key ingredient used in many of our household products--from lotion to shampoo--and in many foods. However, companies that are members of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) are committed to using certified sustainable palm oil in food and other household items. Please support these companies that are doing their best to make a difference for orangutans. Shop smart and help keep this amazing species from becoming extinct!

Did you know that you can buy sweet treats for the holidays and support orangutan conservation at the same time? This printable guide and mobile device app will help you purchase candy that is palm oil free or made sustainably. For a list of palm oil-free candy, groceries and household items and to get the palm oil mobile device app, go to www.cmzoo.org/palmoil.

  1. Plant Milkweed for Monarchs

Monarch caterpillars rely heavily on milkweed as its only food source. Oklahoma is a major state along the monarch migration highway. Monarchs can travel between 50 and 100 miles per day, taking up to two months to complete their journey. In spring, monarchs will travel up to Southern Canada and Eastern United States, nearly 3,000-miles, migrating back to Mexico in the fall. In 2020, the monarch population dropped 26% from the previous year.

An easy way for Zoo fans to help monarchs and other pollinator is by planting native nectar-plants and milkweed. Both potted patio plants and large green gardens can provide pollinators a much-needed pitstop as they travel through Oklahoma. To learn how to create a monarch oasis in your own backyard, visit http://www.okiesformonarchs.org. Butterfly fans can also help monarch by becoming a citizen scientist and reporting monarch sightings at https://journeynorth.org/monarchs!

  1. OKC Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation:

What is Round Up for Conservation? It is an OKC Zoo initiative created to help wildlife and wild places! Zoo guests are encouraged to become everyday conservationists by simply rounding up their purchases to the next dollar amount when visiting the Zoo. For example, if a guest’s total purchase is $10.73, one of our Zoo team members will ask if they'd like to round up to the nearest dollar. If the answer to the above question is YES, 27 cents will then be donated to the Zoo’s overall conservation initiatives. It’s really that easy!

Opportunities to "Round Up" are available all throughout the Zoo, this includes general admission and gift shop purchases. During your visit, you’ll find Zoo team members wearing their “Round Up for Conservation” buttons, which feature a newly designed logo to help promote the program.

Lancer Hospitality, the Zoo’s food and beverage partner, is also involved with the Zoo’s conservation initiatives – now encouraging guests to donate 50 cents or a dollar with their purchase at the Lotus Pavilion, Canopy Restaurant, Safari Café or Best of OKC. 

- Dr. Rebecca Snyder, director of conservation and science

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