By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden will host its 37th annual Haunt the Zoo for Halloween with new trick-or-treating methods to ensure a safe experience for everyone involved.
This year, Haunt the Zoo is expanding from two to four weekends to allow plenty of room for social distancing among guests.
Oklahoma’s largest Halloween celebration, the OKC Zoo returns this year with safe, contact-free trick-or-treating fun and new festive activities for all ages
Haunt the Zoo will be held on each Saturday and Sunday from October 10 through November 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’re excited to bring Haunt the Zoo to life and provide Oklahoma families with a memorable way to celebrate the fall season and an opportunity to enjoy quality time together exploring the Zoo,” said Rochelle Wilhelm, OKC Zoo’s director of guest experience and events.
“Our top priority is providing a safe event for our guests, volunteers and staff while showcasing all the wonder and magic this popular tradition continues to bring to the community.”
Event dates are Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11; Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18; Saturday, October 24 and Sunday, October 25; and Halloween Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1.
Trick-or-treating is available each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through timed ticketing.
Costume wearing trick-or-treaters will collect treats from Zoo volunteers at 13 candy stations located along the Haunt the Zoo trail. Volunteers will distribute candy and snacks through 8-foot “treat tubes” into trick-or-treat bags from a safe distance.
Guests will also discover 27 themed booths displaying a wide variety of family-friendly decorations and elaborate props, perfect for capturing “fa’boo’ous photo moments,” according to the press release. Zoo admission and official trick-or-treat bags are required to participate.
Haunt the Zoo goers are invited to wear their Halloween costumes. Adults may wear costumes, too, but nothing scary.
Guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks while at the Zoo. Masks are required for all indoor locations and while participating in animal feedings and encounters. All Zoo staff and event volunteers are required to wear masks while working.
Participants wishing to trick-or-treat must purchase an official treat bag: $7 per child (non-members) and $6 per child (ZOOfriends members). General admission must be purchased separately for entry into the Zoo.
A maximum of 300 trick-or-treat bags will be sold per hour. Trick-or-treat bags will be available for pickup at the Zoo’s Plan Your Day cart located past the admission check-in point. Haunt the Zoo capacity will be limited to 400 admission tickets sold every 15 minutes.
Guests are asked to arrive on time for their Haunt the Zoo reservation, allowing quick and easy Zoo entrance.
Event admission and trick-or-treat bags will be limited to ensure social distancing.
Haunt the Zoo activities are all outdoors, spanning across the Zoo’s 100-acre park.
Candy and snacks will be distributed to trick-or-treaters through 8-foot “treat tubes”!
All event volunteers and Zoo employees handling event candy are required to wear masks and gloves.
Event signage and audio messages will be made periodically throughout the day to remind guests to socially distance while in the park.
Hand sanitizing stations will be located at the Zoo’s entry, exit, restrooms, eateries and most animal habitats for guests to use. Zoo team members will continuously clean high-touch surfaces like vending machines, tables, chairs, rides and more.
Pumpkin Painting Craft activity will be available for kids 11 and under, providing them with a personal keepsake from the event. Pumpkin painting will take place at the Jungle Gym Picnic Area. The cost is $5 per child (ZOOfriends members) and $6 per child (non-members) and capacity is limited per event date.
The Cheetah Dash Race Course interactive game will belocated at the Zoo’s picnic area and the Hay Maze can be found at the Jungle Gym Plaza at no additional cost.
Halloween-Themed Sea Lion Presentation will focus on popular Halloween characters and movies that are “delightful not frightful,” making the event appropriate for young ages. These presentations are exclusive to Haunt the Zoo dates at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the sea lion stadium. Admission is $5 per person and children two and under are free.
Endangered Species Carousel and Elephant Express Tram – Take a spin on the carousel or a guided tour on the Elephant Express Tram, both decked out for Haunt the Zoo. Additional fees apply for each ride and can be purchased in advance with your admission tickets or on-site. Children two and under ride for free.
Back by popular demand, the Zoo will host its annual OKC Zoo Pumpkin Drive from Thursday, October 1 through Wednesday, October 7 during regular hours. Guests bringing a pumpkin larger than their heads to the Zoo will receive free same-day admission. The limit is one free admission per person.
Pumpkins will be available for purchase in front of the Zoo. Donated pumpkins will be used to decorate Haunt the Zoo.
The OKC Zoo needs hundreds of volunteers to help make Haunt the Zoo a success. Volunteers will help with distributing goodies to trick-or-treaters through “treat tubes” and manning lines at the candy stations. Volunteers must be 14 or older.
This is a great opportunity for individuals, families and groups. Masks and gloves are required while volunteering. The Zoo will provide gloves. To learn more about volunteering or to sign up, click here.
Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members and can be purchased at okczoo.org/tickets. Zoo tickets are limited each day to ensure safe social distancing among guests.
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. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Zoo memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org or any place admission is sold in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza during regular business hours.
To learn more about Haunt the Zoo, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.