By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – In response to the unprecedented wildfires in Australia, the Oklahoma City Zoo Botanical Garden is contributing $10,000 in emergency conservation funds to support the critical care and long-term recovery of Australian wildlife.
“During this time of heartbreaking devastation, the Oklahoma City Zoo stands with our friends and colleagues in Australia,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo executive director/CEO.
“This crisis reminds us just how fragile and precious life is,” Lawson added. “Our goal of preserving wildlife and wild places isn’t limited by our state’s or nation’s geographic boundaries. We have a global mission that crosses every border and ocean.”
As the historic and relentless fires continue to burn across southeastern Australia, more than 15 million acres have been consumed – equal to one third of the state of Oklahoma.
Since the wildfires began in September 2019, an estimated one billion animals have died with many of the surviving animals injured and displaced to regions in which they cannot naturally survive.
“As a conservation organization, the Oklahoma City Zoo raises and distributes funds to aid wildlife conservation here in Oklahoma and around the world,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo curator of conservation and science.
“This week we are contributing $10,000 to an organization that is in the field helping with the wildlife crisis in Australia,” Dr. Snyder said.
The Zoo is providing $10,000 from its Round Up for Conservation Emergency Fund to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund spearheaded by Zoos Victoria located in Victoria, Australia in support of Australian wildlife relief.
The donation will be made through the Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians, which will match contributions up to $5,000.
“While the fires are a distance from our zoos, our vet teams have been deployed into the fire areas where they are setting up triage and critical care facilities,” said Dr. Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria “It is still early days and the actual fire grounds are still too dangerous for people to enter and find injured animals.
“However, many animals are being brought in for care, with varying types of injury,” Gray continued. “We are also concerned for animals after the fires as even if they survive the fires there will be no food or shelter available.”
All funds raised will be used for the critical care and long-term recovery of Australian Wildlife.
The OKC Zoo is home to 15 species native to Australia:
- Tammar Wallaby
- Bennett’s Wallaby
- Southern Cassowary
- Masked Lapwing
- Swainson’s Lorikeet
- Green-Naped Lorikeet
- Tawny Frogmouth
- Mary River Turtle
- Magnificent Tree Frog
- Shingleback Skink
- Australian Snake-Necked Turtle
- Woma Python
- Bearded Dragon
- Blue-Tongued Skink
- White’s Tree Frog
Plus, female orangutan Negara, 26, came to the OKC Zoo from Perth Zoo in 2016.
The Oklahoma City Zoo has provided critical funds and invaluable conservation services of staff members to wildlife programs across Oklahoma and around the world.
Since 2011, the Zoo has raised more than $640,000 in conservation funds through its Round Up for Conservation program.
When buying tickets, drinks or souvenirs at the Zoo, visitors are asked to “round up” their purchases to the nearest dollar generating thousands every month.
The Zoo also sells artworks painted by animals through their program called “Art Gone Wild” and conservation wristbands with all proceeds funding Round Up for Conservation programs.
The public can also help wildlife being impacted by the Australian wildfires by donating directly to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund at www.zoo.org.au/fire-fund
Zoo 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. To learn more about other Zoo happenings, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.