By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – This Valentine’s Day, The OKC Zoo offers wild gift ideas for your special someone. Gift options include ZooFriends’ Memberships, which provide endless fun and Zoo adventures for all. ZOOfriends members receive free admission to the OKC Zoo for an entire year, plus additional perks and discounts.
Membership levels start at $35 and ZOOfriends has packages to fit every budget. Committed to giving 100 percent of your membership dollars back to the Zoo, these memberships support the care of the Zoo’s animals, fund education programming and conservation initiatives and supports the overall expansion and growth of the Zoo. Purchase online at zoofriends.org or contact the ZOOfriends office at (405) 425-0618 for information.
Animal adoptions are meaningful gifts that give back in a wild way. Proceeds from these symbolic adoptions support the health, enrichment and nutritional needs of the OKC Zoo’s animal family. At $60, each limited edition adoption includes choice of plush tiger, rhino, gorilla, elephant, red panda or komodo dragon, personalized adoption certificate, photo, fact sheet about your adopted animal and name recognition on the ZOOfriends website for one year. Other adoption options are available and all can be purchased in the ZOOfriends’ membership office, by calling 405-425-0618 or online at zoofriends.org.
Impress your loved one with original Animal Art Paintings from the OKC Zoo. As part of the Zoo’s enrichment program, many animals paint during enrichment sessions with assistance from their caregivers. Masterpieces are created by elephants, sea lions, tigers, snakes, giraffes and Puddles, the Zoo’s fishing cat. Select the perfect painting for your Valentine by visiting the Zoo’s Guest Services office located in the entry plaza, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proceeds from all paintings support the Zoo’s conservation projects. For more information, call 405-425-0262.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s Safari Gift Shop offers a vast selection of items including children’s books and toys, apparel, green or recycled gifts and home décor. Many items available for purchase support local and global conservation, so you can feel good about the gifts your giving. Shop your heart out 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
The Zoo will host hiring events On Saturday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb. 9, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden will be hiring part-time Brand Ambassadors for spring/summer 2019. Attend the OKC Zoo’s upcoming hiring events from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Zoo’s Rosser Conservation Education Center located at the east of the main parking lot. Attendees may park by and enter through the education center. Zoo admission is not required.
OKC Zoo Brand Ambassadors perform a variety of skilled tasks throughout the Zoo, including ticket sales, entry/exit greeters, ride supervisors for the Endangered Species Carousel, Elephant Express Tram and Centennial Choo Choo train, as well as supervise a number of guest encounters with our wildlife. The ability to speak with guests, answer visitor questions and provide solutions to problems is essential. To learn more or apply online, visit okczoo.org.
The OKC Zoo will host a special Groundhog Day event on Saturday, Feb., 2 featuring grizzly bear brothers Will and Wiley, who try their paw at predicting if spring will come early. Because the Zoo does not have groundhogs in its collection, the grizzlies have become the official Groundhog Day ambassadors. Activities are scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. at the Big Rivers building in the Zoo’s Oklahoma Trails and are free with admission. Guests will enjoy doughnuts, hot chocolate and coffee while supplies last. For more information, call Guest Services at 405-425-0262.
On Saturday, Feb. 9 the OKC Zoo will host special Valentine Enrichment Activities for select Zoo animals. Watch as your favorite animals receive special enrichment treats and toys created by their caretakers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These animal-approved valentines encourage natural behaviors and provide new stimuli for our animals to enjoy.
The enrichment schedule is as follows:
10-10:30 a.m.: New gal goat group and Koi fish (Children’s Zoo)
10:45-11:15 a.m.: Galapagos tortoise (Inside Island Life)
11:30 a.m. – noon: Western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees (Great EscApe)
12:15-12:45 p.m.: California sea lions (Sea lion habitat) and Stingrays (Stingray Bay)
1-1:30 p.m.: Asian elephants and Indian rhino (Sanctuary Asia)
1:45-2:15 p.m.: African painted dogs (by the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital)
This event is free with Zoo admission. For more information, call Guest Services at 405-425-0262.
The OKC Zoo invites guests on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a global citizen science project that encourages nature enthusiasts to count native birds and help create a real-time look at wild populations. Activities are ideal for families and individuals–all ages welcome. Guests will assist with counting and identifying the native birds that make their home around the Zoo. Kids will enjoy an on-grounds bird scavenger safari with a prize. Visit the information tent in the entry plaza to learn more about the day’s activities including bird watching tours. All activities are free with Zoo admission. For more information, visit okczoo.org.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s annual Dr Pepper Vending Machine Art Contest will be held from Wednesday, Feb. 20 through Monday, Mar. 25. The event encourages Oklahoma’s talented students, K-12, to be creative for wildlife and habitat conservation. Contest participants are eligible to win prizes and the chance to have their original art designed on a Dr Pepper vending machine at the Zoo. This year’s contest theme, A Future for Pollinators, hopes to inspire students to illustrate their ideas for protecting our planet’s pollinators (bats, monarch butterflies, bees, birds, etc.) and their habitats. Additional information about the contest theme, guidelines and entry forms will be available at okczoo.org/drpeppercontest. All submissions must be postmarked by March 25. Participation is free. For more details, contact Candice Rennels at 405-425-0298.
Grow your gardening skills with the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Totally Terrariums Workshop on Saturday, February 23 from 10 a.m. to noon in the Zoo’s Treehouse. Kids ages 13 and up will learn how to create a vintage apothecary jar terrarium with the expert help of the OKC Zoo’s horticulture team. The workshop includes all supplies needed. To learn more about the workshop and to register, click here.
The OKC Zoo Education Program offers monthly opportunities for Boy Scout and Girl Scouts to learn about wildlife and wild places while achieving badges and meeting program requirements, electives. For additional information, call Education at 405-425-0218.
The OKC Zoo’s monthly Homeschool classes, on Thursday, Feb. 7 and Friday, Feb. 8, will focus on various animals and plants and include animal encounters, zoo tours, and hands on activities. This month, participants will test birding skills as they identify birds native to Oklahoma. Enroll today for Thursday, February 7 from 1-2:30 p.m. or Friday, February 8 from 1-2:30 p.m. or 3-4:30 p.m. Cost per student: $10 for ZOOfriends members, $12 for non-members. For additional information or to register, click here.
On Friday, Feb. 8, the OKC Zoo will host a family overnight program, themed We “Heart” Animals. Guests will learn about the Zoo’s animals and the daily enrichment provided for them by our dedicated caretakers, and have the opportunity to create an enrichment treat or two for some of the animals. This program is Friday, February 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. the next morning. Overnight includes educational program, night hike, evening and morning snack, and zoo admission the following day. Ages: 4 and up (parent must accompany child). Cost: $35/child, $20/adult. For additional information about this program or to register, click here,
Bring your little cub to experience the OKC Zoo’s Cub Club programs on Thursday, Feb. 14 and 21. These monthly classes will introduce kids, 2-5 years of age, to the natural world around them. This month join the Zoo for “Bouncing Bunnies” and experience furry fun learning about bunnies through interactive lessons, crafts and a visit from a fluffy guest. Cub Clubs are held monthly on Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. Price per child/adult pair: $12 for ZOOfriends members and $15 for non-members. To learn more, click here.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s School’s Out Day Camp, themed “Backyard Birds”, on Monday, Feb. 18, will provide an exciting environment to interest children ages 4–11. Snacks are provided, but campers must bring their lunch. Advanced registration and payment required. Camps run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Drop-off at the Zoo’s Education Center is from 8–8:30 a.m. Cost per child, per day is $40 for ZOOfriends members and $45 non-members. To register or learn more, click here.
To learn more about these and other happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.