Beyond observing hundreds of animals and acres of botanical gardens, the Zoo’s new Wild Encounters provide all ages an up-close and personal encounter grizzly bears, sea lions and elephants. At scheduled times, groups up to 10 can go behind the scenes to feed and interact with our ambassadors of awe. (Additional fees apply). You’ll also be awed by free daily Keeper Connections located throughout the Zoo. Up to a dozen times a day, you can learn about your favorite animals from their Zoo keepers. Unique to the Zoo is the free Viewing Gallery at the new Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital. Large windows enable you to observe the Zoo’s vet team performing ani-mal medical procedures in real-time—from dental exams to surgeries. Interactive exhibits also help you explore topics related to veterinary medicine and zoo keeping. Other encounters include feeding giraffes and lorikeets, and touching stingrays. Sea lion and elephant presentations provide close-up chances to enjoy animal training and enrichment activities.

While planning your summer adventure, include Zoo events and discount days that coincide with your calendar. Tuesdays in June and July, join a free morning Wild Tuesday Story Time Safari. Kids 11 and under can hear stories read by guest story tellers, meet a keeper and enjoy a snack in the Children’s Zoo. Sunday, June 19, is Father’s Day and you can bring dad on a Zoo safari for free with any paid admission. Then each Wednesday in July and August, you’ll enjoy “way back” admission prices of just $1 per person during Way Back Wednesdays.

The Zoo also celebrates global conservation days that include free, family friendly activities. The Zoo hosts a World Oceans Day celebration (June 10) where you’ll discover diverse ocean creatures and habitats, and learn how to help prevent ocean pollution. Additional activity days include World Giraffe Day (June 21), World Elephant Day (August 12), Zooper Hero Day (September 9) and World Rhino Day (September 22).

Planning a late summer/early fall vacation?  Don’t miss the 7th Annual Art Gone Wild Show: Paintings by OKC Zoo Animals, which kicks off the first week of August. From gorillas to stingrays, the Zoo’s talented animal artists create original paintings by using their trunks, paws or even noses! Proceeds from the art exhibit benefit the Zoo’s conservation initiatives. Another chance to view art in nature is the Zoo’s Monarch Festival (September 24). This day of activities, art displays and garden demonstrations will emphasize saving monarch butterflies.

If your adventure extends beyond a day, squeeze in a deeper learning experience for the kids, the whole family or just the adults!  Sleep on the wild side during an Overnight Program. Learn about nocturnal or endangered animals, befriend an education animal and enjoy an evening hike. Sleepovers are held in a Zoo climate-controlled building.

No need to take a vacation from learning. Zoo Summer Camps (June – August 12) introduce your young explorers (ages 3-15) to the wild world of wonder.  Half-day and full-day camps are available. Campers will enjoy Zoo exhibit tours, animal visits, keeper chats, water play and Zoo attractions. The Zoo’s Family Programs explore fun themes while learning together. Adult-only programs include your choice of scavenger hunts, overnight snoozes, trivia nights and more.

Experience a summer adventure in awe at the OKC Zoo! Sight-see, make a wild encounter memory or dig deeper to learn about wildlife and wild places. The Zoo is a proud Adventure Road partner and member of Oklahoma City’s Adventure District located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Buildings close at 4:45 p.m. daily. Regular admission is $8 for adults, and $5 for children 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are free. Find us at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and learn more

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06 Jul 2017

By Michelle Brock