A CAPSULE HISTORY OF THE OKLAHOMA CITY ZOO
& BOTANICAL GARDEN
1904 Zoo opened at Wheeler well as picnic shelters
Park as small and roadways. 1954 Friends of the Zoo
menagerie. First zoo in 1947 “Uncle Leo” dies of founded to raise money
Southwest. First animal pneumonia. Julian for the purchase of
acquired was a deer Frazier from the Ft. animals for the Zoo.
fawn. Worth Zoo hired as new
Director. 1959 Julian Frazier resigns.
1909 City of Oklahoma City Dr. Warren Thomas
purchases 600 acres for 1949 Judy the Elephant replaces him.
Lincoln Park. acquired through
Collection consists of "Children's Pennies for 1961 Rotary Club donates
125 animals. a New Elephant" money for an animal
1923 Zoo moved to State Fair
Grounds (now site of 1950 Leapy the Leopard Bond issue passed to
Douglass High School) escapes. Captured three build a Pachyderm
because of devastating days later after eating Building, kitchen
flood in Wheeler Park. drugged horsemeat. facilities, and a 45-acre
However, he died the ungulate area.
1924 Fire razes Lincoln Park. next day due to
overdosage. Five-page 1962 Friends of the Zoo
1925 Reconstruction begins at coverage appears in Life reorganized as the
Lincoln Park on 17 magazine. Oklahoma Zoological
acres and Zoo moved to Society.
this site. 1950's Completion of a new
sea lion exhibit funded 1960's Florence O. Wilson
1930 First Zoo Director, Leo by Sertoma Club; Zoological Library and
Blondin (“Uncle Leo”) Primate and Giraffe Education Department
hired. building completed. established. Ungulate
area and pachyderm
1933 Under WPA, the CCC 1953 Matilda the building also
begins program to Hippopotamus acquired established. Leadership
construct the Zoo through a campaign of OZS taken over by
Amphitheater. featuring Gayla John E. Kirkpatrick.
Peevey's song, "I Want a
1935 WPA approves major Hippopotamus for 1964 Dr. Thomas resigns.
expenditures for Zoo. Christmas". Replaced by Dr. Phillip
1938 WPA turns projects over Leapy’s mate escapes
to the City. Completed and is shot and killed 1965 Zoo established as a
are the bear, cat, and within hours as she separate department
ungulate exhibits, as attempts to leave zoo within the City; no
grounds. longer a part of the
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 1
Parks and Recreation Lion Marmoset. In 1972 Condor Cliffs and Pata-
Department. recognition, the Golden gonia exhibits opened.
Lion Marmoset was
Admission fee initiated designated as the Zoo’s Junior Hospitality Club
at the Oklahoma City symbol. grants funds for mini-
1970 Shepherd House (first
C.W. Richardson two-story territorial Fredrieka, the Zoo’s
Children's Zoo opened. home) moved to Zoo first gorilla birth, is born
site. to Kathy and Moemba.
Giraffe building New support facilities
converted to gorilla built, including hospital, Max, the Zoo’s first
building. isolation, maintenance okapi, is imported from
compound, central the Frankfurt, Germany
“Snake Pit” renovated service center, and Zoo.
as the Herpetarium. greenhouse.
The Zoo assists in the
1966 Ivan the Snow Leopard Lawrence Curtis confiscation of over
escapes through an appointed as new 1,000 rattlesnakes
unlatched door. Director. gathered in roundups in
Recaptured by dart gun Texas and Oklahoma.
but dies of an overdose 1971 Junior Curator Program
of drugs. started and Animal Re- City Council terminates
search Council their contract with the
Addition made to organized. Society and turns over
pachyderm building for operation of the Animal
housing hippos. National Antivinen Shelter to the Zoo on a
Index developed in temporary basis.
1968 $1.2 million bond issue coordination with AZA
approved for Zoo and located at OKC Mid
improvements. Zoo. 70's Animal research center
Tapir Building opened First ZooMobile
in Children's Zoo. donated by an auto Docent program es-
dealer. tablished. Animal
First tram purchased Health Council formed.
from the New York Amphitheater
World’s Fair. resurrected from nonuse 1974 $500,000 bond voted for
since the 30's with a new Zoo entrance,
Nursery opened in spring musical offices, and Galapagos
Children's Zoo. presentation in Island exhibit.
cooperation with the
1969 "Northeast Study" by Oklahoma City Additional land
OKC Planning Symphony Orchestra. purchases completed,
Department includes bringing total land to
master plan for Zoo. First surviving birth of over 300 acres.
an orangutan occurs at
Dr. Ogilvie resigns. the OKC Zoo. 1975 Oklahoma City
Zoological Trust formed
Early First course in Zoo to manage the
70's Zoo embarks on a Biology offered at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
captive propagation Zoo in collaboration
program with two other with OSU. Public Services facilities
zoos to save the Golden added.
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 2
1979 First phase of new Zoo Construction of
New Zoo railroad entrance completed. Hummingbird/Rain
installed. Forest exhibit begins.
1980 Construction begins on Proposal made to
Animal Shelter given new Zoo entrance develop a racetrack on
back to the City. complex. Zoo property north of
existing developed Zoo.
Zoo property expanded Galapagos Island
by an addition of 40 Exhibit complex Director Lawrence
acres. completed. Curtis resigns.
Restoration of New Safari Tram added. 1985 Dan Moran Tropical
amphitheater begins and Bird Exhibit opened.
a regular program of 1981 New gift shop and
concerts is established. concessions area Zoo entrance complex
1976 Junior League funds
Creative Playground. Zoo acquires a pair of Steve Wylie hired as
rare Indian rhinoceroses new Director.
Horticulture Department from the West Berlin
created. Zoo. 1986 Aquaticus (Noble
Aquatic Center) opened
Extensive installation of 1982 Zoo received full as $6 million aquatic
irrigation systems made accreditation from exhibit featuring marine
throughout south area. AAZPA. mammals and
1977 “Gronk”, the zoo’s first Education Department
condor chick, is hatched closed to begin major 1987 New support facilities
out and hand reared. renovation. built to accommodate
development of Rem-
60 additional acres ac- Planning begins for ington Park north of
quired, bringing total Aquaticus. Zoo. Included are new
acreage close to 400. hospital, animal
1983 Zoo Amphitheater management offices,
Zoo receives an AAZPA designated an historical isolation units, central
award for its sustained site. services, maintenance
conservation breeding compound, graphics
program with the Rex Kennedy Rosser department, and hay
Golden Lion Marmoset. Education Center barn.
1978 “Virginia Lynn” Completion of EPA
steamboat launched on 1984 Construction begins on drainage projects
Zoo Lake. Aquaticus. through ungulate area.
Zoo’s first Master Plan Sky Safari added. 1988 Presentation of
for a new Zoo entrance completed Zoo Master
complex completed and Rotary Gardens opened Plan.
bond funds designated at front entrance.
for its construction. Expansion and
Additional 60 acres of upgrading of Zoo
New Zoo offices opened land acquired bringing parking lot by
in basement of total acreage to 420. Oklahoma county.
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 3
Opening of Remington Renovation of The Canopy Food Court
Park Racetrack adjacent playground completed. under construction.
to Zoo grounds.
Zoo’s own water well New Herpetarium in
Completion of marine system completed. design phase.
aquariums and addition
to Education program 1996 Butterfly Garden com- New entry plaza under
funded by Oklahoma pleted. construction.
Foundation. Ground breaking for Carousel arrives June
new Education 17.
1989 Zoo receives $75,000 Building.
IMS Grant for Great $8.5 million bond issue
EscApe. 1997 Cat Forest/Lion approved to accelerate
Overlook exhibit construction.
Zoo's two gas-powered completed.
trains sold, ending 40 Two bear grottos
years of trains at the Zoo takes over Gift renovated. One for
Oklahoma City Zoo. Shop and aardwolves, the other
Merchandising. for picnic tables.
1990 July 1990, one-eighth
cent sales tax passed by Moemba succumbs to New sable antelope
Oklahoma City voters. heart disease. exhibit constructed.
Zoo Lake dredged. Design Team begins 2000 Opening of The Canopy
work on new entrance Food Court.
1991 Children's Zoo and Zoo restaurant.
renovated. Dolphin birth – May 31.
Judy the Elephant dies.
1992 Zoo offices renovated. Director Stephen R.
1998 New Conservation Wylie resigns on
1993 Great EscApe Education Center opens. October 1. Dr. Connie
completed. Mack McCoy selected
Skyride is sold. as Interim Director.
1994 Galapagos upgraded to
Island Life Exhibit. Matilda the Hippo dies. Dolphin baby “Lily”
New Catering Kitchen Zoo receives AAM
and Pavilion Accreditation as both a 2001 New Main Entry Opens
construction completed. living museum and – March 10.
Renovation of VIP Safari Tram stop
Room Aquaticus. Now New graphics installed construction began.
known as the Nautilus at Aquaticus.
Room. Norberto "Bert" Castro
“Judy” memorial con- hired as new Executive
1995 Cat Forest/Lion structed. Director on May 1.
Overlook Project ($8.6
million) construction 1999 Twin gorillas born Dr. Connie Mack
began. March 21. McCoy, Interim
New Zoo entrance sign Pygmy hippo exhibit /CEO retires.
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 4
Greater one-horned New Oklahoma bison the $250,000 addition is
Indian rhino, "Jamie" exhibit dedicated on the first project
born on May 10. June 1. completed in the new
master plan of the Zoo.
Oklahoma Zoological Frontier Country
Society Executive Marketing Association Two orphaned bear cubs
Director Patrick awards Haunt the Zoo from Alaska go on
Alexander resigns. Dr. 2002 Outstanding exhibit in their new
Connie Mack McCoy Event. home at the Red Panda
selected as Interim exhibit on June 26. In
Director. Dwight Scott, former August, the cubs move
Co-Curator of Mammals to a larger exhibit next
Oklahoma City at the Zoo, is named to the sea lion pool
Zoological Trust votes Director of Animal outside the Noble
to discontinue dolphin Management. Aquatic Center
and sea lion performance arena.
presentations. American Zoo and
Aquarium Association First annual Gorilla
Waterfowl exhibit at grants accreditation to Golf tournament held in
new Global Plaza opens the Zoo for another five September.
on August 21. years.
Haunt the Zoo sets an
Oklahoma Zoological Rare babirusa piglets attendance record for
Society names Lana Ivy born at Zoo. the event with 33,487
as new Executive trick-or-treaters.
Director. 2003 The Phillip Boyle
Treehouse opens for Female Western lowland
Pygmy Hippopotamus Education classes and gorilla, Mikella, is born
born on December 1. activities. at Great EscApe on
2002 Safari Tram stop Harbor seal pups arrive
construction completed. at Zoo. 2004 A male Western lowland
gorilla named George is
Oklahoma Department In March, the new Fins born at Great EscApe on
of Wildlife and Feathers show January 25. At age 40,
Conservation and opens at the Noble mother Kathy becomes
United States Fish and Aquatic Center, the oldest gorilla in
Wildlife open branch featuring California sea captivity to give birth.
offices on Zoo grounds lions and several species
in February. of exotic birds. Male babirusa piglet
born on February 12.
Zoo adds Morphis The Education Center is
Virtual Simulator, rock renamed on April 16 the A female pygmy
climbing wall and a Rosser Conservation hippopotamus named
children's train. Education Center in Clover, is born on St.
honor of longtime Patrick's Day, March 17.
Zoo Lake opens for volunteer Ronald
public fishing. Rosser. Construction of the
Jungle Gym, a
Master Plan workshops The new interactive community build
conducted to begin long lorikeet exhibit opens playground, begins on
term planning for on May 23. Located March 24 and opens on
facilities and exhibits. between the Children's April 17.
Zoo and The Canopy,
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 5
ZooKeys, located at 18 Extravaganza on August single night mark was
different boxes 7. set with 12,544 guests.
throughout the Zoo with
each providing different In November, the Zoo is Born in late October and
messages, return to the named as one of five first heard by keepers on
Zoo during spring. finalists in Microsoft's November 7, a litter of
"America's Favorite four meerkat pups are
In May, the Zoo is Zoo" contest. born at the Zoo.
named the third best
family-friendly zoo in The Zoo Store opens at Fern, a Western lowland
the nation by Child Penn Square Mall on gorilla is euthanized on
magazine. November 2, providing November 29 due to age
gift items and related health concerns.
In mid-May, ground educational experiences
breaking and for shoppers. The Zoo 2006 A female Greater Indian
construction begins on Store remained open rhino is born on January
Oklahoma Trails. through January 2, 18.
Commemorative Dr. Three female red river
Pepper bottles The Centennial Choo hog piglets are born July
celebrating Zoo's 100th Choo opens on 4. They are the first of
birthday go on sale. November 17. The their species born at the
replica 1863 locomotive Zoo.
Two bison calves, one driven train takes
male and one female are passengers over one- Les, a 44-year-old male
born at the Zoo in May. mile tracks through the Sumatran orangutan,
hoofed stock exhibits. dies due to age-related
Zoo general admission health concerns. He
increases on June 1 to 2005 Two female Queensland was the second oldest
$7.00 for adults and koalas, Kiley and male orangutan in North
$4.00 for children and Nariha, are temporarily America.
seniors. on exhibit, visiting from
San Diego. The pair are One male and one
June 22 is declared on exhibit from March female African crested
Oklahoma City Zoo 11 through June 30. porcupines are born
Day through a Sept. 20. They are the
resolution read by The Island Life exhibit first of their species
Mayor Mick Cornett, is renovated in March born at the Zoo.
honoring the Zoo's with the addition of new
Centennial Celebration. exhibits and animals, 2007 Oklahoma Trails opens
including the crocodile March 10.
Flowers In Flight: The monitor.
Butterfly Experience, a The Zoo breaks its
walk-through aviary During the fiscal year annual attendance
featuring butterflies ending June 30, the Zoo record for the fiscal
from around North breaks its annual ending on June 30 with
America, opens in June. attendance record with 800,374 guests.
The Zoo caps its year Haunt the Zoo set two Twenty flamingo eggs
long Centennial attendance records. The begin the transportation
Celebration with a six night total of 41,576 process to the Zoo on
weekend of activities at beat the old record by July 7 as part of a
the Centennial Birthday over 8,000 while the conservation program
administered by the
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 6
Miami Metrozoo and Two snow leopard cubs and one female, are
the AZA. Eleven of the are born on May 19. It born.
flamingo chicks hatched was the first snow
throughout the month of leopard birth at the Zoo The Zoo hosted its first
July. in 16 years. annual Scoot for
Two litters of African The Oklahoma City run on June 28. All
lion cubs are born at the Zoological Trust names proceeds benefited
Zoo November 4 and 6. Dwight Scott as the new animal conservation.
The litters produced Executive Director/CEO
four cubs, one male and on May 21. A male Grevy;s zebra
three females. foal is born on July 12.
The Zoo breaks its
On November 19, the annual attendance record A rare male okapi calf is
Zoo and KFOR for the fiscal year ending born on August 15.
NewsChannel 4 launch on June 30 with 835,382
the KFOR Cub Cam. guests. On August 26, the Zoo
Guests could log on to welcomes the first
the Cub Cam to watch The Zoo’s two female jaguar cub born at the
the lion cubs prior to Asian elephants, Asha Zoo in 30 years! The
their first public and Chandra, are moved female cub was born to
appearance. to the Tulsa Zoo to be mom Ixchel.
bred with male elephant
A female Grevy’s zebra “Sneezy.” The Zoo hosts In October, construction
foal was born at the Zoo a “Pack Your Trunks” begins on the new
on November 25. party to send them off. Asian-themed elephant
2009 On February 19, Elok
2008 Executive Director the orangutan, new to On October 15 and 16,
Norberto “Bert” the Zoo, makes a brief the Zoo hosts one-year
Castro resigns trip outside of his birthday parties for Zoe
January 11. Director exhibit and is quickly the chimpanzee, who
of Animal coaxed back inside was orphaned at birth
Management Brian without incident. and hand-raised by
Aucone is named keepers.
Interim Director. Dinosaurs Unearthed
debuts at the Zoo on On December 7 the Zoo
Jennifer D’Agostino is March 13. This announces that Asha,
named Director of animatronic exhibit one of the Zoo’s Asian
Veterinary Services in featured life-sized elephants, has
January. moving, roaring successfully conceived
dinosaurs and ran after breeding with male
The Zoo hosts a naming through June 30. “Sneezy” at the Tulsa
contest for the four Zoo.
African lion cubs. Tommy Bryant is named
Voting took place online Director of Grounds and On December 18, the
and the winning names Maintenance on May 18. Zoo kicks off a “Name
were: Xerxes, Malaika, That Goat Contest” to
Zari and Kalliope. Brian Aucone is named name the Nigerian dwarf
Assistant Zoo Director goats for the Children’s
In April, construction on July 1. Zoo. The contest was
begins on the new Oklahoma-themed, and
Children’s Zoo. On June 18, two red the winning names
panda cubs, one male were: Gotebo, Norman,
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 7
Edmond, Bixby, Paintings by OKC Zoo female, are born to
Chandler, Dewey, Animals” art show in the parents Yoda and
Oologah, Jet, Bowlegs, Paseo District. Celeste.
Duncan, Hugo & Perry.
On October 18, elephant On July 9, four critically
2010 The Zoo’s four lion cubs sisters Asha and endangered Sumatran
move to the El Paso Zoo Chandra return to the tiger cubs are born to
on January 17. They will Zoo from the Tulsa Zoo. mom Suriya and dad
be staying together as a Raguno – the first-ever
non-breeding pride. On November 1, Alan Sumatran tigers born at
Vasik begins as the Zoo.
On January 17, a giraffe Assistant Zoo Director.
calf, later named On September 6, the
“Keyara,” is born to Zoo opened a giraffe
first-time parents Ellie feeding platform that
and Bogy. 2011 On March 11, the Zoo’s allows guests to feed our
new 9.5 acre, $13 gentle giants for $3.00 a
On March 12, the new million Asian-themed person.
Children’s Zoo opens to elephant habitat opens to
the public, featuring a the public! Featuring On November 13, a rare
barnyard petting area, elephant sisters Asha okapi calf, female, is
the return of the and Chandra, the habitat born to mom Caroli and
Explorikeet Adventure, is one of the largest dad Kidomo.
and much more! elephant spaces in the
country! In December, a bull
On April 7, the Zoo Asian elephant named
announces the formation The ZooZeum opened Rex joined the Zoo’s
of a small grants on April 9. Located near elephant herd of half-
program, Conservation the elephant habitat the sisters Asha and
Action Now (CAN). ZooZeum is housed in a Chandra and baby
restored stone building, Malee.
On May 12, two male originally a bathhouse
snow leopard cubs, an built in 1935, by the 2012 On January 17 and male
endangered species, are Works Progress giraffe calf is born to
born at the Zoo. Administration. The mom Ellie and dad
only museum of its kind Bogy.
On June 24, two in the country, the
endangered red panda ZooZeum is a place to In March, the Zoo is
cubs, one male and one relive favorite zoo named the third best Zoo
female, are born to memories. in the nation by
parents Yoda and 10Best.com’s 10Bestie
Celeste. On April 15, the Zoo awards.
welcomed a female baby
On July 20, Zoo Asian elephant calf.
Executive Director Born to mom Asha and
Dwight Scott is named dad Sneezy (from the
to the Board of Trustees Tulsa Zoo), the calf,
of the prestigious Dian later named Malee, is
Fossey Gorilla Fund the first elephant ever
International. born at the Zoo.
On August 6, the Zoo On June 25, three
presents the first annual endangered red panda
“Art Gone Wild: cubs, two males and one
Oklahoma City Zoo History Page 8