By Darla Shelden
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is offering an early-bird registration rate of $30 (5K) and $25 (Fun Run) until July 31 for the third annual Monarch Madness 5K/Fun Run on Saturday, September 14. Both events will benefit local monarch butterfly conservation.
Starting Thursday, August 1, race registration rates will be $40 (5K) and $30 (Fun Run). To register and for more details, visit okczoo.org/5K.
Studies show the Monarch butterflies population has declined by more than 80 percent over the last two decades due to habitat loss and pesticide use.
Additional sponsorship opportunities are available for the event and for the Monarch Festival – also happening Saturday, September 14 at the Zoo. For information about sponsorships, email [email protected] or call (405) 425-0219.
New this year, the Monarch Madness runs will take runners directly into and through the OKC Zoo, the Zoo press release stated.
The 5K is an officially timed run that includes a course simulating the epic journey monarchs take from Canada to Mexico with themed stops along the way. The Zoo also encourages runners to come dressed in butterfly costumes and accessories–the crazier the better!
The event is scheduled to coincide with the period of time when monarch butterflies migrate south through Oklahoma to their overwintering grounds in Mexico.
All participants receive a t-shirt, timed bib number, a finisher medal, OKC Zoo Poo compost and free general admission to the Zoo that day. The 5K will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the one-mile Fun Run kicks off at 8 a.m. Check-in for both begins at 6 a.m.
The day’s festivities will continue with the Monarch Festival from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The goal of the festival is to educate Zoo guests about the decline of monarchs and to inspire them to take action to save these iconic species by learning how to attract them to public gardens, neighborhoods or their own backyard.
Festival activities are free with Zoo admission. Festival activities will take place in the entry plaza and around the Zoo’s Butterfly Garden, a 20,000 square-foot habitat designed to host monarchs and other pollinators.
As the largest, walk-through outdoor butterfly area in Oklahoma, the garden features over 15,000 plants designed to sustain the complete life cycle of butterflies.
The OKC Zoo, along with over forty organizations, have joined to form the Oklahoma Monarch and Pollinator Collaborative, called Okies for Monarchs. Their goal is to encourage the planting of monarch-friendly plants throughout the state.
According to event organizers, Oklahoma cities are taking the initiative to plant wildflowers along highways and replace native trees and flowers after major construction projects.
In order to support this effort, the Zoo recently awarded grants to Oklahoma schools to establish their own monarch gardens and to train teachers on how to incorporate their new gardens into their classes.
The Zoo is looking for volunteers to help with the Monarch Madness events. Each volunteer will receive service hour documentation and two admission tickets to the OKC Zoo for their time. To learn more or to sign up, email [email protected].
Through September 14, the ZooZeum will host Follow the Monarchs, a traveling art display featuring thousands of paper butterflies mimicking the monarch migration. The exhibit also includes butterfly-themed art created by local artists. The ZooZeum is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
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.
For more information, call 405-424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.