Guymon Daily Herald

Oklahoma Zoological Society announces capital campaign for Expedition Africa


The Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) announces the launch of its capital campaign in support of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden’s newest habitat expansion, Expedition Africa. To date, OZS has raised $5.2 million of its $6 million dollar fundraisin­g campaign goal including a gift of one million dollars from Love’s Travel Stops. OKC Zoo fans now have an opportunit­y to contribute to this campaign at, and be part of this momentous project. Slated to open this June, Expedition Africa is the OKC Zoo’s most ambitious and immersive conservati­on habitat experience in its history.

“The generous donation from Love’s Travel Stops is an incredible investment in Expedition Africa and the fuel that will inspire the community to help us reach our campaign goal,” said Mandy Heaps, executive director of the Oklahoma Zoological Society. “The gift is bitterswee­t as it comes so close to the passing of Tom Love, but we can now add the Oklahoma City Zoo to the many places where his memory will be honored and his family’s generosity will be celebrated for decades to come.”

“Expedition Africa is our largest endeavor yet and we are extremely grateful to those helping to bring this vision to fruition,” said Dr. Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director/ CEO. “Thanks to the support of OZS, our community and philanthro­pic partners like Love’s Travel Stops, the OKC Zoo continues to be a world-leader in animal care and national cultural destinatio­n.”

Expedition Africa will connect Oklahomans and guests from across the country, with African wildlife like never before. This 12-acre habitat located in the heart of the Zoo will feature enhanced animal habitats, diverse environmen­ts, memorable wildlife experience­s for guests to enjoy and over 60 species native to the African continent such as giraffe, zebra, lemurs, wildebeest, honey badger, hyena, meerkat and more. This premier habitat also features a new state-of-the-art giraffe barn, offering indoor viewing areas of the Zoo’s giraffe herd along with year-round public feeding opportunit­ies.

An iconic feature of Expedition Africa is the Zoo’s historic pachyderm building proudly sponsored by Love’s Travel Stops. Love’s Pachyderm at Expedition Africa, a registered location on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructe­d in the early 1960s to provide habitat space for the Zoo’s elephants, rhinoceros­es and hippopotam­uses. This familiar site to generation­s of Oklahomans has been reimagined with the developmen­t of Expedition Africa. The building’s unique mid-century exterior has been preserved while the interior is transforme­d into a multi-use space for animal habitats, a children’s interactiv­e play area and private events.

“Visiting the OKC Zoo has always been an activity my family enjoys doing so contributi­ng to their capital campaign for the pachyderm building was an easy choice,” said Jenny Love Meyer, chief culture officer and executive vice president of Love’s. “Giving back to educationa­l organizati­ons is a core tenet of Love’s and the Oklahoma Zoological Society is a world-class organizati­on we’re happy to support.”

Heaps shared, “We are extremely appreciati­ve of the support we have already received from community donors and partners, and countless individual­s who share a passion for the OKC Zoo and excitement of Expedition Africa.” Donations to Expedition Africa can be made at Africa. Major donors for Expedition Africa as of March 2023 include Inasmuch Foundation, Love’s Travel Stops, The E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation, McCasland Foundation, Rotary Club 29, The Rapp Foundation, The Kerr Foundation, Bank of Oklahoma, Chesapeake and ONE Gas. Expedition Africa is funded in part by contributi­ons from OZS’s capital campaign coupled with financial support from the OKC Zoo including funding from a 1/8 of a cent Oklahoma City sales tax dedicated to the OKC Zoo, passed by voters in 1990.

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