The area leading to the elephant enclosure is well decorated at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Hands On Experience At Oklahoma City Zoo

Our visit to the Oklahoma City Zoo was a chance to experience an amazing opportunity for us. We have found that many zoos around the country are embracing the idea of helping their visitors have a more enriching experience. Zoos have guest speakers lecture about the environments that certain animals inhabit. Overnight camp outs can be scheduled at some facilities. One of the most popular additions we have been finding are the hands-on experiences that can be found at more and more facilities. This type of participation was a huge draw for us at the OKC Zoo.

We want to thank the Visit Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Zoo for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.

The authors pause for a selfie before exploring the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Summer Heats Up

Being from the Midwest, we are no newbies to summer heat. We will usually try to schedule as many of our outdoor activities in the morning, but it doesn’t always work out that way when we are planning our action packed itineraries. We realize that most of you will not try to pack so much into one day, so we would highly suggest a summer zoo visit be made closer to opening time. This will allow for the best chance to see the animals being active. Of course, this doesn’t mean that an afternoon visit is completely out of the question. While some of the animals may be hiding from the heat, many others will be going about their everyday activities. Besides, it usually means smaller crowds to deal with.

The flamingo area offers a shaded break from the summer heat.

Being Shady at Oklahoma City Zoo

While the walking paths may have been a little toasty, we found that the Oklahoma City Zoo has done a good job at incorporating shade spots in their exhibits. This allows visitors a chance to get out of the blazing sun and observe the animals in a more comfortable setting. As we passed through the zoo we found lots of creatures going about their business. It was the first time we remember seeing a flamingo chick, so we watched the mother feed it for a while.

A Galapagos turtle poses for s photo.

Many of the animals seemed to be just as interested in us, as we were in them. This huge Galapagos Tortoise kept an eye on us and almost seemed to be smiling as we approached. It’s easy to see that this creature has seen the passing of many seasons and will probably outlive many of those that visit the zoo. This is certainly an animal we would probably never have the chance to see in the wild. One of the reasons we support zoos is the education that they impart on their visitors. It is a chance to see the beauty of the other creatures that inhabit our planet, and understand the importance of helping to preserve their habitats.

Grizzly bears were roaming their enclosure scouting out food.

We’ve Got Bears!

For those who follow our escapades on Instagram, we are sure you know our infatuation with bears. (You can find our feed here.) We were pleased to find a pair of Grizzlies actively exploring their space. The design of their exhibit allows visitors excellent observations. A large glass wall let us follow them as they moved along their space. Once again, we were glad to have the shady perch from which to view.

The trainers work closely with the elephants at the oklahoma City Zoo.

Time To Get Hands-On

The highlight of our visit was getting to experience one of the Oklahoma City Zoo’s Wild Encounters. These behind-the-scenes tours allow guests to see the animals in a whole new way. They offer up close and personal meetings with flamingos, sea lions, rhinos, grizzly bears, Galapagos turtles, and elephants. We  had reservations for an encounter with the Asian elephants. Our zoo tour guide picked us up and gave us a short overview of the elephant sanctuary that has been created at the zoo. Afterwards, we were guided inside the elephant barn and handed off to the trainers.

As we waited nearby, one of the trainers put an elephant through its paces. They explained to us that by doing this training it allows them a chance to inspect the animals for any potential health issue. We were amazed at how limber and nimble these creatures were for their size. It was also fun watching them pick up their treats.

Crystal is shocked at the feel of the skin of an elephant.

Our Turn

After the inspections were completed, it was time for our chance to get a little one-on-one time with one of the elephants. The one they chose was only three years old, but already taller than us. When it is your turn they have you move to a predetermined spot. At that point you can feel the side of the elephant, but keep aware of the trunk. They can be a little sneaky, so they request you don’t have any loose objects that could be easily removed.

The author interacts with an elephant.

I was next up and I took my position. The experience is amazing and gives you the feeling of a closer connection with the elephant. Crystal and I both were surprised at the feeling we experienced. The amount of wiry hair on the side of an elephant is not what we expected. It felt a little like a stiff bristle brush. This was the closest we have ever been to elephants, and the experience will definitely stay with us. Once everyone had their turn it was time to follow our tour guide back to the cart. Before leaving the area she showed us the rest of the Asian elephants at the zoo and told us a little about the family dynamics and hierarchy.

A puma pauses for a drink at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Time For A Wrap

By the time we parted from our tour it was getting late in the day. We chose a path that allowed us to see a few more exhibits, as we made our way toward the exit. The long day seemed to be taking its toll on everyone and everything. Even with that, there were still quite a few animals out and about in their exhibits.

A herd of animals take a mud bath break during the heat of midday.

As we traveled, we spotted these animals who found a unique way to cool off. While it may have been a little muddy, the idea of a cooling dip seemed appealing. We were already deep into our second day in Oklahoma City and still hadn’t had a chance to enjoy the pool at our hotel. Maybe this evening would be the night.

The authors pose for a photo during a visit to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

We finished up our visit and made our way toward our car. As we headed off to our next stop, we both commented on the amazing experience we had that day. We feel blessed that we have the opportunity to get these opportunities, and hope that you will find some that will intrigue you, as well. As the habitats dwindle, and so many species become challenged, these types of activities are a chance to create a stronger bond with our planet. Perhaps we can inspire our kids and grandkids to be the generations that see the re-population of these important inhabitants. We hope you like this article and will share it with some of your friends. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Hands On Experience At Oklahoma City Zoo”

  1. Did anyone tell you the story behind the grizzly bear brothers? They were orphaned Cubs found in Alaska and OKC zoo took them in. Their names are Will and Wylie.

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