At the OKC Zoo, Go Wild!

Media Contacts

Candice Rennels | (405) 425-0298 |

OKC Zoo News Releases


We asked Oklahoma students to spread their creative wings for conservation, and they rose to the challenge! The Oklahoma City Zoo and Dr Pepper are proud to announce the winners of the 15th annual Dr Pepper Vending Machine Art Contest. This spring, Oklahoma students in kindergarten through 12th grade were invited to enter the contest for the opportunity to have their artwork featured on a Dr Pepper machine at the OKC Zoo and win prizes from OKC Outlets and the Zoo. This year’s winning designs, including the Dr Pepper machine fronts for the two grand prize categories, were revealed at an award presentation on Saturday, April 20, 2019, during the Zoo’s Party for the Planet™/ Earth Day celebration.

Students from across the Sooner State participated in the contest and submitted original artwork for consideration. A total of 1,600 entries were received from students in 166 schools and home schools representing 72 Oklahoma towns/cities. Entries were judged based on creativity, originality, meeting art specifications and relevance to the contest’s theme, “A Future for Pollinators”.  This year’s theme was chosen to encourage students to share their creativity and love of nature by illustrating a future safe for butterflies, bees and other species that perform the critical role of pollinating plants. Oklahoma City is directly in the path of monarch butterflies’ annual migration. Recognizing the importance of these pollinators and the urgency of restoring their population, which has declined by 80 percent over two decades, the OKC Zoo has made planting for monarchs and other pollinators a central conservation platform for 2019.

“Through Dr Pepper’s partnership, we are able to provide this unique and enriching opportunity that encourages next generations to be a voice for change and raise awareness for protecting our world’s vanishing wildlife and wild places,” said Candice Rennels, OKC Zoo director of public relations. “These students are the hope for our planet’s future and seeing how creatively they express their ideas and passion for wanting to make a difference is awe-inspiring.”


Both Grand Prize recipients received a $300 gift card from an OKC Outlet store and a certificate. Their winning artwork will be the cover design on a Dr Pepper vending machine located on Zoo grounds for a year.

Grand Prize (K-5):  Brooke Blackburn, 3rd grade, Stilwell, Maryetta School, Amanda Harrington’s class.
Grand Prize (6-12):
 Olivia Ross, 10th grade, Edmond, Oklahoma Connections Academy, Ashley Hambright’s class.

Both First Place recipients received a ZOOfriends membership and a certificate. Their designs will be on display at the OKC Zoo and OKC Outlets.

First Place (K-5):  Hannah LaVene, 5th grade, Edmond, Deer Creek Intermediate School, Bonnie Gull’s class.
First Place (6-12):
  Tegan Watson, 9th grade, Fletcher, Elgin High School, Ruth Crittendon’s class.

Zoo Director’s Top Honor Roll Awards

Honor Roll recipients received a certificate and will have their design on display at the OKC Zoo and OKC Outlets.

AZA Choice: Meghna Ponnavolu, 5th grade, Edmond, Deer Creek Intermediate School, Bonnie Gull’s class.
Pollinator Prize:
  Jaydelyn Dobrinski, 2nd grade, Arnett, Arnett Elementary School, Alicia Sheik’s class.
Bee the Best:
  Emma Coombes, 5th grade, Stilwell, Maryetta School, Amanda Harrington’s class.
Global Awareness:
  Kaizlyn Dobrinski, 1st grade, Arnett, Arnett Elementary School, Julie Thomas’s class.
Monarch Medal:
  Madalyn Longshore, 3rd grade, Stilwell, Maryetta School, Amanda Harrington’s class.
Hive Achiever:
Henry Purin, Kindergarten, Shawnee, Bethel Elementary.
Conservation Champion:
  Lisa Goyer, 9th grade, Oklahoma City, Harding Charter Prep., Steven Stefanick’s class.
Nature Navigator:
  Arriana Toomey, 11th grade, Elgin, Elgin High School, Ruth Crittendon’s class.
Party for the Planet:
  Destiny Taft-McCall, 10th grade, Guthrie, Guthrie High School, Lindsey Baker’s class.
Wonders of Wildlife:
  Ana Rose Whitewolf, 8th grade, Anadarko, Anadarko Middle School, Adam Heilman’s class.
Earth Day Hero:
  Fabian Ramirez, 10th grade, Guthrie, Guthrie High School, Lindsey Baker’s class.
OKC Zoo Accolade:
  Samantha Lopez, 12th grade, Red Oak Public Schools, Red Oak, Kelly McCullar’s class.

Visit the Oklahoma City Zoo and “bee” inspired to care for, connect with and conserve wildlife and wild places! Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $11 for adults, and $8 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay in the “Zoo know” on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and by visiting Our Stories. To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit


EDITOR’S NOTES:  For pictures of each contest winner present at the award presentation and their design, click here.

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