By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden will celebrate World Turtle Day® on Saturday, May 23. Guests with reservations for the Outdoor Safari Walk, the Zoo’s all-outdoor, modified trail through the park, are invited to participate in the day’s activities from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Activities, presented locally by Bob Moore Subaru, include a special scavenger safari for kids, bio-facts, animal ambassadors and photo opportunities.
The Zoo will also be sharing a series of live “turtle talks” on Facebook from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. focusing on turtle conservation and what the public can do to help.
Turtles fans will have the opportunity to purchase a turtle conservation wristband, the newest design in the Zoo’s series of animal-themed wristbands.
Wristbands supporting World Turtle Day will be available for purchase at the stroller window located in the Zoo’s entry plaza. Cost is $2 per wristband with all proceeds supporting the Zoo’s conservation initiatives.
Turtles have roamed the planet for 200 million years, yet global turtle populations are rapidly declining due to threats from the exotic pet trade, hunting and habitat destruction, according to the press release.
The OKC Zoo is home to 26 vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered species of turtles.
The World Turtle Day scavenger safari (for kids 11 and under) encourages kids to find six species of turtles while exploring the Outdoor Safari Walk trail and correctly determine their conservation status using the information posted at their habitats. Scavenger safari cards will be available from Zoo team members at the start of the Safari Walk trail.
Referred to as a “shellebration,” the live turtle talks, hosted by Zoo experts on Facebook on World Turtle Day, will raise awareness about the Zoo’s turtles and the efforts the Zoo is taking to protect wild populations and habitats.
The live turtle talks will begin at 9:30 a.m. featuring the Galapagos Tortoise; at 10:30 a.m. the Central American River Turtle will be showcased, and a discussion at 11:30 a.m. will feature the Burmese Brown, Black and Star Tortoises.
The OKC Zoo is a conservation partner of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and actively supports the organization’s goal of zero turtle extinctions. The TSA is a recognized force for turtle conservation globally hosting projects in turtle hotspots around the world, including Belize, Madagascar, India, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar,
Efforts are specific to each area, the local issues, and the turtle species.
TSA has also established the Turtle Survival Center, a large breeding center in South Carolina. The center is home to 600 turtles representing 32 of the world’s most critically endangered species.
The Zoo is open daily and taking online reservations for its Outdoor Safari Walk, which takes guests on a modified pathway through the park to view a majority of the Zoo’s outdoor animal habitats.
Online reservations are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members wanting to experience the Outdoor Safari Walk and limited each day to ensure adequate social distancing between guests. Zoo hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
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. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming Oklahoma Zoological Society members at ZOOfriends.org.
To learn more about World Turtle Day and other happenings, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.