The next stop on our journey towards Texas took us to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
We woke early this morning for a quick “fill-up” at the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast before we were on the road again. From Springfield, Missouri we had a 4 hour stretch of road to drive before reaching Oklahoma City…the next stop on our itinerary. We left by 8:00am with the goal of reaching Oklahoma City by noon.
When researching things to see and do in Oklahoma City we had a few options. I really wanted to visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial which stands in remembrance of those whose lives were lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, but felt that given everyone’s emotional state it was probably too heavy a place at this time, so instead we decided to spend the day at the zoo.
After reading many reviews online I was excited to explore this zoo that received high accolades for their affordable price and awesome exhibits.
We arrived to find the zoo empty. We had the place to ourselves, which was shocking given the fact it was the summer season. Our “out-of-town visitor” status soon became apparent when we realized that the locals, who are more familiar with Oklahoma City summer temperatures, were all home enjoying their air conditioning.
But we didn’t let the 97 degree heat (103 degree heat index) dampen our day…although it did dampen our shirts!
Luckily there were water misters and industrial fans sprinkled throughout the zoo.
Each cooling spot became an oasis for these “desert travelers.”
The nice thing about visiting Oklahoma City Zoo in July is that you have the place to yourself. There were no lines and no fellow visitors to maneuver around.
We were so impressed with this zoo. They had such a fun variety of species that we hadn’t seen in other zoos, particularly in the reptile house and the aviary.
Some of our favorite exhibits included:
The Pygmy Hippo:
The Galapagos Tortoise:
But the best exhibit, hands down, were the Gorillas.
We spent the longest part of our day sitting at this window, interacting with this amazing group of Gorillas.
There was a beautiful Silverback, a few female Gorillas and two babies. There was a four year old male named, “Liom,” and a two year old female named, “Rubi.”
And they were hilarious to watch!
It was just like we were watching preschool siblings.
Rubi killed us. She is just starting to interact with the public and spent much of her time at the window interacting with us.
We died when she ran along the window with her tongue to the glass, licking it all the way to the other side.
Both babies would follow the big silverback anytime he would move across the yard, but unlike her big brother that moved in a straight line from point A to point B, Rubi would spin like a two year old doing pirouettes across the living room.
Then she’d tip over and roll on her back when she got too dizzy.
We could have stayed there all day!
The thing that really set this zoo apart from its counterparts was the staff. We were amazed by the amount of staff that were positioned at the various exhibits around the zoo to answer the visitor’s questions and educate the public on each animal. With so few visitors, it was like having our own private, backlot tour of the zoo. They were all so informative and it greatly enhanced the experience to have an employee who personally works with the animal, telling us about that animal and answering any questions we had. It was so much more engaging than simply reading plaques on the sides of exhibits.
There were also employees stationed at the intersections of the various sections of the zoo to direct you to your destination if you were turned around, to inquire if you needed anything, and to remind visitors to drink water.
The staff at the Oklahoma City Zoo was amazing!
Although we really enjoyed all the cool exotic critters, my kids were inevitably drawn to the farm animals that were so familiar. There was a nice little petting zoo area where the kids could brush goats, sheep and miniature donkeys.
Molly, my goat whisperer, was in heaven.
Tyler also really enjoyed the lake where you could purchase a handful of fish feed for a quarter and feed the catfish, ducks and turtles that congregated at the edge of the dock.
The heat was intense enough that Toby indulged in a way we don’t normally, at places like the zoo, and bought everyone ice cream cones. They tasted so good. I don’t know if it was especially good ice cream or if it just tasted exceptionally good because we were so hot. Either way, our cones were delicious!
We stayed until 4:30 pm and then drove over to Five Below. Toby’s uncle, Dave, lives in Oklahoma City with his wife and manages the Five Below store there. Since he was working, and couldn’t meet us at the zoo, we decided to come to him.
It was so great to see him and catch up, even if just for a short time.
He generously gave the kids each $5.00 to purchase a souvenir. The kids loved it, and it was so sweet of Dave.
Grace bought a cute hat, Molly purchased a new backpack, and both boys picked a Heliball after Dave told them it was the coolest toy they sold in his store.
He was right! The boys have had a blast with their new toys. Thank you, Dave!
It was a very hot, but VERY FUN day, in Oklahoma City.
Next Stop: Ft. Worth, Texas.