By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden will feature its grizzly bears during its wild approach to the annual Groundhog Day celebration.
According to a press release, the OKC Zoo’s Groundhog Day ambassadors, grizzly bear brothers, Will and Wiley, “will try their paws at predicting the changing seasons to determine if winter is here to stay or spring is on its way.”
In anticipation of Groundhog Day and this week’s forecast for some warmer weather, the OKC Zoo will be open to the public on Tuesday, February 2, and Wednesday, February 3. The events will include Facebook Live videos, photo opportunities and more.
Since the Zoo is not home to groundhogs, the bears step in as official Groundhog Day prognosticators.
Advance tickets are required for all guests and ZOOfriends members, which can be purchased at okczoo.org/tickets.
Presented by Bob Moore Subaru, the Zoo’s Groundhog Day event includes a themed enrichment activity for the bears to engage with as they try their forecasting skills.
Guests are invited to attend this year’s Groundhog Day event happening from 10 a.m. to noon at the Zoo’s Oklahoma Trails, Big Rivers building.
Activities for the Groundhog Day celebrations are free with Zoo admission.
Zoo goers 11 and under will learn about bear behaviors as they explore Oklahoma Trails. They will also be able to make their own weather prediction, spring or winter. Activity cards will be available at the event information table at the entrance of Oklahoma Trails.
The event will include Facebook Live Chats with the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The OKC Zoo’s designated “town crier” will read the official proclamation adding a festive element in the spirit of early Groundhog Day traditions at 10:15 a.m. in the Big Rivers Building.
Animal Enrichment for the Zoo’s grizzly and black bears will begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day at the grizzly and black bear habitats.
Guests at the Conservation Education Station can view bio-facts, discover fun facts about the world’s bear species, have the opportunity to create their own bear den for a chance to win a wild encounter, and discover how the Zoo is contributing to bear conservation.
During the #Make Your Own Den Social Media Challenge event participants and Zoo fans at home are invited to share their cozy bear dens online on social media for a chance to win a Grizzly Bear Wild Encounter for four. Follow the Zoo on Facebook and Instagram to learn more.
The OKC Zoo is home to black bears, Maynard and Woody; and grizzly bear brothers, Will and Wiley.
In the past, the OKC Zoo has enlisted the help of several Groundhog Day delegates including a bison, prairie dog and pot-bellied pigs.
Bears were originally used to predict the weather in Europe but, when the population of bears decreased, a badger or “groundhog” inherited the task, resulting in the name, Groundhog Day.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with no public access on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 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 maintain 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.
Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts.
For more information, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.
This story first appeared online on Feb. 1, 2021.