OKC Zoo's Party for the Planet gives youth fun Earth Day options 

click to enlarge Interactive Bowling for Rhinos activity
  • Interactive Bowling for Rhinos activity

Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden’s annual Party for the Planet happens on Earth Day 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 22 at 2000 Remington Place.

All Earth Day and Party for the Planet activities are free with paid zoo admission.

“Our event is a series of activities imagined through the lens of childhood,” said Greg Heanue, Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden chief marketing officer.

Party for the Planet events include a safari scavenger hunt for children ages 11 and younger, with eight conservation-themed stations that also lead them on a tour of the zoo grounds. Participants unlock clues at each station to complete a secret word, Heanue said. The scavenger hunt directs them through rhino, gorilla, giraffe, lion, buffalo, reptile, elephant and butterfly garden habitats.

Debuting at this year’s celebration will be Groundswell International, which empowers family farmers around the world and helps strengthen local food economies. Heanue said the nonprofit will lead seed-planting demonstrations throughout the day and give away seed packets. Other scavenger hunt stops examine novel water conservation tools, such as rain barrels made from old soda syrup barrels.

Regular zoo activities will shift focus to Earth Day-related conservation themes for the day, including Keeper Connections, a series of hourly talks led by zookeepers, who are responsible for animal care. Earth Day was founded in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and is considered to be the official beginning of the modern environmental movement.

click to enlarge Two of the OKC Zoo’s Indian rhinos.
  • Two of the OKC Zoo’s Indian rhinos.

April 22, the zoo also will feature live entertainment in the Global Plaza, located near the park entrance.

One scavenger hunt tour highlight is a teaser for the worldwide Bowling for Rhinos event created by the American Association of Zookeepers.

Party for the Planet attendees can warm up their bowling game on a miniature lane at the group’s booth inside the park. The full-sized event happens in July at Heritage Lanes.

“Since the Bowling for Rhinos events began, participating zoos have collectively raised more than $6 million, which is used to fund rangers, Land Rovers and, in some cases, even drones, which are used to spot poachers,” said OKC event chairwoman Erica Buckwalter, who also  is an education naturalist at the zoo.

Since 1990, Bowling for Rhinos has been dedicated to rhino conservation and ending poaching.

Buckwalter said all five remaining rhino species in the world are considered endangered, three of them critically. Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden is home to three Indian rhinos.

Zoo admission is $5 for children age 3 to 11 and seniors and $8 for adults. Children under 3 years old get in free. Zoo It All admission is $15-$25 per person. Group and military discounts are available. Visit okczoo.org.

Print headline: Control feats, Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s family-friendly Party for the Planet celebrates Earth Day. 

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