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Candice Rennels | (405) 425-0298 | crennels@okczoo.org
 


OKC Zoo News Releases

OKC ZOO PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THE OPENING OF PREDATOR PASS

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is proud to announce the opening of Predator Pass, a 61,000 square-feet predators’ paradise for cheetahs and African painted dogs. After three years, cheetahs have officially returned to the Zoo’s animal family. Five-year-old brothers, Boomer and Pistol Pete “Pete”, arrived at the Zoo on Sunday, October 17, from The Little Rock Zoo, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Also new to the Zoo’s animal family are three African painted dogs, two females and one male, from Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City, Missouri. Painted dog sisters, River, 3, and Pele, 3, as well as male, Bomani, 10, will reside at Predator Pass as a separate pack from the Zoo’s current pack of five painted dogs. These painted dogs are new pack mates and in the process of being introduced to each other so guests may only see the female dogs in the habitat. Recently, the introduction process was paused as Bomani has been experiencing lethargy and stiffness in his legs. He is currently under veterinary care and being treated for age-related arthritis. The Zoo’s other African painted dog pack are presently inhabiting Lion Overlook on a rotational basis with the Zoo’s pride of African lions while construction on Expedition Africa, the Zoo’s 12-acre habitat transformation project, continues through spring 2023.

“The OKC Zoo has a long-standing history of conserving and preserving these two threatened African predator species through the financial support of groundbreaking conservation organizations, such as the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) and the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF),” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director/CEO. “With the opening of Predator Pass, we’ve committed to furthering our conservation impact with the enhancement of guest connection, experience and education.”

The $1.9 million Predator Pass habitat, designed by WDM Architects of Wichita, Kansas, and Guernsey Architects of Oklahoma City, consists of four distinct habitat spaces, two indoor climate-controlled habitats and panoramic viewing opportunities for guests, including three shaded porticos with engaging educational graphics displays. Each habitat space features lush foliage, rock outcrops with shaded alcoves, as well as raised vistas and limited water features. The construction project was funded in part by a 1/8 of a cent Oklahoma City sales tax.  

The cheetahs and painted dogs will enjoy access to all four habitat spaces on a rotational basis for optimal enrichment experiences. Guests can now view these precious predators as they explore their habitat, located near the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital.

About the Zoo’s Commitment to Cheetah Conservation:

Listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), cheetahs are threatened by human-wildlife conflict, the illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and loss of prey. Known as the fastest land mammal, cheetah can reach top speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour.

As part of the Zoo’s contribution to cheetah conservation, the Zoo welcomed Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), on October 20, 2021, for Cheers for Cheetahs, a fundraising event hosted by the Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) and OKC Friday, to celebrate the completion of Predator Pass and raise awareness for the organization’s strong commitment to cheetah conservation. The event raised more than $30,000 for cheetah conservation.

$15,000 raised from Zoo guests as part the Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation grassroots initiative in 2021 supported three organizations dedicated to cheetah conservation, including CCF, located in Namibia, Africa, as well as Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) in Botswana, Africa, and the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) in Tanzania, Africa. These donations were specifically focused toward supporting initiatives designed to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. CCF received $5,000 to fund its livestock guarding dog and Future Farmers of Africa programs, CCB received $5,000 to benefit its livestock guarding dog program, and RCP received $5,000 to fund its predator-proof livestock pen program.

The Zoo is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Cheetah Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program, a collaborative network, partnering to build capacity to increase direct conservation spending, as well as AZA members’ impact on saving species through work in the field, in our zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement.

About the Zoo’s Commitment to African Painted Dog Conservation:

Deemed endangered by IUCN, African painted dogs are a highly intelligent and social species with packs ranging from two to thirty individuals. Prior to addition of its second painted dog pack, the Zoo was home to one singular pack, consisting of five individuals – Xena, 10, Dojo, 9, Tex, 4, Back Slash, 4, and Spot, 4. As a long-term home to painted dogs, the Zoo partnered with the Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) in 2017 to provide direct funding and staff support. In the last five years, the Zoo has contributed over $53,000 to PDRT’s conservation initiatives and sent six team members to Zimbabwe, Africa, to assist with conservation projects in the field. The Zoo is also a participant in AZA’s African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan®.

How You Can Help Cheetah and African Painted Dogs:

  • Predator Pass Animal Adoption: Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS)’s Animal Adoptions are a great way to help the Oklahoma City Zoo and the animals that call the Zoo home. Your generous donation helps supply the OKC Zoo with important funding for conservation initiatives and programs. Each Predator Pass Adoption includes an African painted dog and cheetah plush set, a personalized adoption certificate, tote bag, postcard, fact sheet, activity pamphlet and name recognition on the ZOOfriends website for one year. Predator Pass Adoptions are $99 each and will be available for purchase beginning Monday, November 1, at https://www.zoofriends.org/animal-adoptions

  • Round Up for Conservation: Make a change for the better for wildlife and wild places, and Round for Up Conservation when you make any purchase at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Simply round up your purchase to the next dollar amount and those funds will support the Zoo’s conservation projects around the world.  

  • OKC Zoo Conservation Wristbands: Animal enthusiasts of all ages will love these uniquely wild conservation wristbands. Choose from several different animal designs, including cheetah and African painted dogs or collect them all! These one-of-a-kind wristbands are available to purchase at the Zoo’s stroller window in the Entry Plaza for $2 each, with all proceeds benefitting the Zoo’s local and global conservation efforts.

Don’t (pass) up the opportunity to experience Predator Pass! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open daily open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC 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. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on FacebookTwitterInstagram and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.

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