By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma City Zoo will offer fun, bargains and educational activities for the month of February.
From Saturday, February 1 through Thursday, April 30, the OKC Zoo will host the Gorillas on the Line Cell Phone Challenge. The challenge is for the community-at-large to help save gorillas by donating old or used cell phones. 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. When individuals donate used phones or other electronics, the coltan from those devices is re-used and reduces the need to mine for the compound in gorilla habitats.
The global goal for Gorillas on the Line is to collect 20,000 devices in 2020. Schools, organizations, businesses and individuals are encouraged to collect as many cell phones and electronics as they can in support of gorilla conservation. Items can be dropped off for recycling in the Zoo’s guest office in the entry plaza. Guests will receive free general admission for two when they donate an old mobile device to be recycled as part of the Gorillas on the Line program.
On Sunday, February 2, during the Connect with Wildlife Challenge, the Oklahoma City Zoo invites guests to check-in their cellphone at the Zoo’s Guest Services office before exploring the park and receive 50 percent off general Zoo admission on date of visit. Cellphones will be securely held by Zoo officials in the Guest Services office. This discount applies toward general Zoo admission, is limited to one discount per person and is only valid for Sunday, February 2.
Also, on Feb. 2, at 10 a.m., visitors are asked to participate in the annual Groundhog Day event. Sponsored by Bob Moore Subaru, this annual event includes a themed enrichment activity for the bears to engage with as they put their fur-casting skills to the test. Because the Zoo does not have groundhogs in its collection, the bears have become the Zoo’s official Groundhog Day ambassadors. Activities, which are free with admission, will take place at the Big Rivers building in the Zoo’s Oklahoma Trails. During the event, guests will enjoy Shipley’s Donuts and coffee while supplies last.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, on Friday, Feb. 14, guests can sample wine from local and national wineries in the Zoo’s Sanctuary Asia during the Wine in the Wild event. From 7 – 10 p.m., the wine tasting experience will feature live music, light hors d’oeuvres, Zookeeper talks, and a commemorative gift. Guests can view and purchase original paintings from the Zoo’s Art Gone Wild program–art by animals for animals. A VIP element will be available prior to general admission that includes a food and wine tasting experience guided by a local wine expert. Must be 21 or older to attend.
Presented by Express Employment International and BancFirst, Wine in the Wild tickets are $65/person for ZOOfriends members, $75/person for non-members. VIP tickets are $115/person for ZOOfriends members, $125/person for non-members. Valet parking will be available for $15. To learn more, click here or call 405-425-0641.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m., OKC Zoo will host a bird tour as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count, a global-citizen science project that asks people to count birds to create a real-time look at wild populations. Participation is easy and fun for all ages. Meet in the Zoo’s entry plaza to join the tour, led by Wildlife Diversity Biologist, Mark Howery, from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. For more information, visit gbbc.birdcount.org.
From 6 – 8 p.m., on Saturday, Feb. 22, Romancing the Zoo will inform guests how endangered species are saved using genetics mixed with a little love. Guests will have a chance to extract their own DNA for a romantic keepsake. The evening event includes a guided tour of the Zoo’s most popular couples plus a behind the scenes exclusive with the Galapagos tortoises. Age 18+ only. This is an alcohol-free event. $30/person ZOOfriends members $35/person for non-members. Click here to register
From Monday, Feb. 24 through Tuesday, March 31, the OKC Zoo is calling on Oklahoma’s talented students (K-12) to be creative conservationists during the annual Pepsi Vending Machine Art Contest. This popular annual contest raises awareness for issues facing wildlife and wild places. Contest participants are eligible to win wild prizes and the chance to have their original art designed on a vending machine at the Zoo. Additional information about the contest theme, guidelines and entry forms will be available soon at okczoo.org. Submissions must be postmarked by March 31. Participation is free. To learn more, contact Candice Rennels at 405-425-0298.
The OKC Zoo offers monthly opportunities for Scouts BSA members and Girl Scouts to learn about wildlife and wild places while achieving badges and meeting program requirements, electives. To learn more about what’s happening this winter and beyond, click here.
The OKC Zoo’s Homeschool Programs allow kids to discover animals from around the world with animal encounters, zoo exhibit tours, and hands on activities. During the year-long Around the World series, meet the animals who call Europe home on Thursday, Feb. 6 from 1-2:30 p.m. or Friday, Feb. 7 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. 7, 21 and 28, take a night hike at the OKC Zoo from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. during the Prowlers After Hours Family Event. Grab some hot cocoa and explore the Zoo after dark with a guided tour and fun activities to learn all about cold-weather animal adaptations. Ages: 4 and up. Cost: $12/ for ZOOfriends members, $15/person for non-members. For more information about this program or to register, click here.
As part of the Zoo’s Education program, during February the Cub Club will offer the opportunity for kids 2 – 5 years of age to learn all about the habits of ferrets through activities, story time, crafts, and an interaction with a ferret ambassador. The Ferret Frenzy will be held on Feb. 12, 20 and 29, from 10 – 11 a.m. Price per child/adult pair: $12 for ZOOfriends members and $15 for non-members. To learn more, click here.
On Friday, Feb. 14 and Monday, Feb 17, the Zoo will hold School’s Out Day Camp. This program provides an exciting learning environment for 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.
Presented by Dean McGee Eye Institute, Eye Spy Safari for Kids is a free, interactive activity for children ages 3-11 to experience while exploring the OKC Zoo. Eye Spy Safari cards are available at the Zoo’s Guest Services and ZOOfriends’ offices. Each child who completes their “Eye Spy” scratch-off card will receive a prize. Prizes are available at the Safari Shop, in the entry plaza. Participation is free with Zoo admission.
The Binocular Borrow program presented by Dean McGee Eye Institute, provides OKC Zoo guests with the opportunity to borrow a pair of branded binoculars during any visit at no cost. To participate, guests will bring a valid photo ID to the Zoo’s guest services office in the entry plaza and complete a quick information form. The photo ID will be securely held by Zoo officials as guests explore the Zoo, and will be returned when the binoculars are brought back to the office. One valid photo ID is required for each pair of binoculars. Participation is free with Zoo admission.
The Oklahoma City Zoo’s ongoing Wild Encounters program offers an up-close view some of their favorite animals. Guests can follow expert animal keepers backstage to learn more about the animal’s unique personalities and stories. Wild Encounters are available daily and each experience comes with a souvenir lanyard. Participants must be 6 years of age or older. Prices range from $61 to $79 per person depending on the encounter. ZOOfriends’ members receive $11 discount per encounter. Contact Guest Services at 405-425-0262 for reservations.
Through the “Ask A Keeper” program, OKC Zoo offers free, daily opportunities for guests to engage with animal keepers and ask questions about the Zoo’s wildlife and commitment to conservation. The “Ask A Keeper” schedule includes the following animal areas:
- 10 a.m.: Wallaby (Children’s Zoo)
- 10:30 a.m.: Galapagos tortoise (Island Life)
- 11:30 a.m.: Stingray Bay
- 1:30 p.m.: Great Escape
- 2 p.m.: Asian Elephant Presentation (Sanctuary Asia, elephant pavilion)
- 2:30 p.m.: Red panda (Sanctuary Asia)
- 3 p.m.: Southern cassowary (Sanctuary Asia)
For additional information about these and other programs, call Education at 405-425-0218 or visit www.okczoo.org.
Zoo hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
On Tuesday, January 21, Oklahoma City Council members approved an increase to general admission prices for the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. Beginning Saturday, February 1, general adult admission will increase from $11 to $12, and admission for children ages 3–11 and seniors 65 and over will increase from $8 to $9. Parking will remain free. City Council also approved increases for ZOOfriends’ memberships also effective February 1. ZOOfriends enjoy unlimited Zoo admission for a year, plus many additional benefits and discounts.
To learn more about these and other happenings, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.