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Colorful flamingos strut their stuff in the OKC Zoo's newest exhibition space, Destination Africa.

Featured Article

Expedition Africa

OKC Zoo's Newest Expansion a Dream Destination for Wildlife Lovers and Adventurers of All Ages

With 12 acres of new habitats for more than 60 species, renovations and experiences, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has much to offer adventurers, young and old.

Expedition Africa, a dream destination for wildlife lovers, is now a reality for visitors to the OKC Zoo. Presented by Inasmuch Foundation, it’s the zoo’s largest-ever expansion, encompassing new habitats, building renovations and enticing features that truly elevate the guest experience.

Foremost among the expansion is room for over 60 species native to the African continent. The spaces are intricately crafted to provide giraffes, lemurs, wildebeest, hyenas and more with welcoming homes that mimic their native habitats.

“One of the most exciting parts of Expedition Africa is that we’re able to provide natural enclosures for the members of our animal family,” said Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director and CEO prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the expansion on March 26.

“It’s another vital step in our mission to connect people with wildlife and wild places all around the world.”

Since its opening, thousands of guests have visited. Comments on Facebook include: “Such a wonderful exhibit! My kids loved the animals!” and “Fabulous addition to the zoo!”

Among the new expansion’s standout features is the renovated Love’s Pachyderm Building, home to some of the zoo’s most captivating residents. The building, which joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2021, retains its Midcentury Modern architecture with an enhanced and visitor-friendly interior housing African lungfish, dwarf mongooses, naked mole rats and more.

It also includes a new events space for meetings, parties and more, plus a new play area behind the building: Pachyderm Heights Adventure Tower, including a rock-climbing wall and a slide, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City. The building was originally constructed in the 1960s to house the zoo’s elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses.

Outside the Pachyderm Building is a new savanna overlook, where the zoo’s herd of giraffes mingle with ostriches, Nile lechwe and Common eland. The savanna area connects to the newly constructed state-of-the-art giraffe barn, allowing visitors to see the herd all year round. One of the premiere attractions for guests, the giraffe barn not only shelters the herd when the weather is unpleasant, it makes the perpetually popular giraffe feedings available no matter the season.

The expansion includes new covered areas for guests to sit and relax in the shade, as well as misters (especially appreciated in July and August!), while enjoying views of hyenas and African painted dogs as well as the habitat’s original sculpture, The Baobab: Home, Story and Survival on the Savannah. Baobab trees are often called the “Tree of Life” because they can live to be more than 1,000 years old!

Surrounding The Baobab sculpture are a new dining area and restaurant, Savannah Snacks, and the Africa-themed Baobab Gifts. 

Funding

The $35 million Expedition Africa expansion was designed by PGAV Destinations, St. Louis, Missouri, and constructed by Timberlake Construction, Oklahoma City. It was funded through private donations, Historic Tax Credits and a dedicated 1/8-of-a-cent sales tax, approved by Oklahoma City voters in 1990. 

Zoo Hours, Admission & More

The Oklahoma City Zoo is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Purchase advance zoo admission tickets at okczoo.org/ticketsOKCZoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Admission is $16 for adults; $13 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children 2 and under admitted free.

The zoo wants ALL adventurers to feel welcomed. Strollers, wagons, wheelchairs and electric convenience vehicles are available for rent. In addition, the zoo has partnered with KultureCity to become certified as a sensory-inclusive location. Guests may check out sensory bags, designed to help sensory needs in both adults and children. Filled with items that can lessen sensory overload and also engage, each bag includes headphones, a marble fidget, noodle fidget, tangle fidget and an ID card. Available at no cost at the Guest Services office.

Membership has its perks! As a ZOOfriends member of the Oklahoma City Zoo, enjoy free admission all year long, plus many additional benefits and discounts. Through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2, the zoo is open daily at 8:30 a.m. for ZOOfriends with current memberships.

ZOOfriends members also support the zoo’s animal family, education programming and conservation initiatives both locally and globally. Join or renew today at www.okczoo.org/membership. 

Social Media

Stay connected with the zoo on Facebook, X, Instagram, Threads, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting the zoo’s blogs. To learn more about zoo happenings, visit OKCZoo.org.

“Such a wonderful exhibit! My kids loved the animals!”

“Expedition Africa is a fabulous addition!”

  • Colorful flamingos strut their stuff in the OKC Zoo's newest exhibition space, Destination Africa.
  • The new habitat features an original sculpture, The Baobab: Home, Story and Survival on the Savannah.
  • A tortoise explores his expansive new habitat.
  • A honey badger checks out a tree trunk.
  • Children check out some of the smaller habitats in the renovated Love’s Pachyderm Building.
  • Expedition Africa, the zoo’s largest-ever expansion, encompasses new habitats, building renovations and enticing features that elevate the guest experience.

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