This weekend marks an important milestone for the 50 endangered species at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
This Saturday, the OKC Zoo and Botanical Garden commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) with a celebration presented by Bob Moore Subaru.
“Guests will have the opportunity to learn about the Zoo’s endangered species, participate in family-friendly activities, caretaker chats, event-themed photo opportunities hosted by Bob Moore Subaru and more, all included with regular Zoo admission,” according to the OKC Zoo.
Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA proved monumental for endangered species across the country. America’s national bird, the bald eagle, is one of many success stories hatched from ESA’s efforts.
“Prior to being listed under the ESA, the bald eagle was facing habitat loss and damage to eggshells due to the use of chemical DDT, the world’s first pesticide, resulting in less than 500 individuals found across America’s lower 48 states in the 1960s,” according to the OKC Zoo.
After joining America’s list of endangered species, the bald eagle found hope through reintroduction programs and the banning of the chemical DDT. Because of ESA’s efforts, the bald eagle’s status flew from endangered to least concern with federal protections. Today, bald eagles once again inhabit the lower 48 states and Canada.
The OKC Zoo rescued two bald eagles who live in the Oklahoma Trails habitat.
The zoo is also a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which aims to protect wildlife and wild places through programs developed to monitor the population management of select species within AZA sanctioned zoos and aquariums. The OKC Zoo is home to many members of the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program.
Red panda populations are decreasing due to deforestation, poaching and the illegal pet trade. The OKC Zoo shows its support for the red panda through AZA’s Not a Pet campaign, which educates visitors about what animals make acceptable pets. African painted dogs, another species that calls the OKC Zoo home, are also supported by AZA SAFE.
The OKC Zoo houses multiple conservation success stories besides the bald eagle. In the 1940s, the whooping crane population dipped below 24 birds. Intensive conservation programs and research efforts have helped whooping crane populations survive and grow.
The Indian rhino population was once made up of 200 individuals. Now, the Indian rhino population is over 4,000. Visitors can feed the OKC Zoo’s Indian rhinos in the daily behind-the-scenes encounters hosted by the rhino’s caretakers. Other animals such as Galapagos tortoises, bears, Komodo dragons, bison and Asian elephants are available for behind-the-scenes encounters.
From 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., admission for the Zoo’s Endangered Species Carousel will cost $1 per person, and all money will be used to support the Zoo’s RoundUp for Conservation program.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry at 4 p.m. Regular admission is $16 for adults and $13 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children under 2 are admitted for free. Tickets can be purchased online or at the zoo.
Proceeds from the zoo-wide celebration will support the endangered species that inhabit the OKC Zoo.