Africa, a dream destination for wildlife lovers, is now a reality for visitors to the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden with the completion of its new Expedition Africa habitat expansion.

Presented by Inasmuch Foundation, Expedition Africa is the OKC Zoo’s largest ever expansion at more than 12 acres in size, encompassing new habitats, building renovations, and enticing features that elevate the guest experience like never before.

Foremost among the expansion is room for more than sixty 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 Dr. Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director and CEO. “It’s another vital step in our mission to connect people with wildlife and wild places all around the world.”

Expedition Africa was a truly collaborative effort, bringing together individual and corporate donors, said Oklahoma Zoological Society Executive Director Mandy Heaps.

“Since its inclusion in the Zoo’s strategic plan in 2018, so many groups inside and outside the Zoo worked in concert to make this dream a reality,” she said. “Seeing the fruition of the effort and giving of people across the state and around the world to make this happen is inspiring.”

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 gorgeous new events space for meetings, parties, and more. There’s also 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 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, as well as the Africa-themed Baobab Gifts with cuddly stuffed versions of Expedition Africa’s residents.

“Every facet of Expedition Africa has been meticulously researched, planned, and executed to continue making this the world-class zoo Oklahomans have come to expect,” Lawson said. “This expansion redefines the OKC Zoo experience and we cannot wait to share it with all of you.”

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.

An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for March 26, 2024 at 1p.m. at the OKC Zoo.

Explore the Zoo’s new Expedition Africa today, a visit worthWILD! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance Zoo admission tickets at and avoid the entry lines. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, and Oklahoma City’s Adventure District. Zoo admission is $16 for adults and $13 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. 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. You will also be supporting the Zoo’s animal family, education programming and conservation initiatives both locally and globally. Join or renew today at

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