A sold-out event – OKC Zoo Gala, honors community visionaries Byron Gambulos, Don and Carolyn Zachritz, Kirkpatrick Foundation and Kirkpatrick Family Fund for bolstering the Zoo’s mission.

Limited tickets available for Gala Twilight Afterparty, 21+ event!

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) are hosting an inaugural fundraising event, OKC Zoo Gala, Under African Skies, that promises to be a wild celebration like no other. Presented by John and Claudia Hollman Affiliated Fund, the 2022 OKC Zoo Gala will recognize dedicated individuals who have amplified the Oklahoma City Zoo’s mission of connecting Oklahomans with the world's wildlife and wild places. The 2022 OKC Zoo Gala Legacy Honorees include Byron Gambulos, Don and Carolyn Zachritz and the Kirkpatrick Foundation and Kirkpatrick Family Fund.

With tickets selling out within weeks, funds raised from OKC Zoo Gala will benefit the Oklahoma City Zoo’s latest and largest habitat expansion in its history, Expedition Africa. Slated to open June 2023, Expedition Africa will feature enhanced animal habitats for giraffe, honey badger, flamingos, zebra, okapi, wildebeest and more while creating new and immersive guest experiences.

“We are extremely grateful for all the support and excitement building around our new Gala,” said Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director/CEO. “It’s an honor to be highlighting these extraordinary awardees and acknowledge their passion for the Zoo. Their significant contributions to the growth of the Oklahoma City Zoo have made it the premiere destination it is today, treasured by millions who have visited.”

“Oklahoma Zoological Society has been the proud support partner of the Zoo for decades,” said Mandy Heaps, Oklahoma Zoological Society executive director. “Our success wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and care provided by our Zoo Gala honorees. I am certain that their examples of generosity will inspire the Oklahoma City community to join us in supporting the Zoo’s newest expansion, Expedition Africa.”  


Byron Gambulos is being honored for his commitment to animal care and enrichment, and dedication to preserving the history of the Oklahoma City Zoo for future generations. Byron’s dream to share decades of Zoo stories and accomplishments with guests came to fruition with opening of the Patricia and Byron J. Gambulos ZooZeum in 2011. The only museum of its kind in the country, the ZooZeum is a place where Zoo fans of all ages can come to experience the memories of those who have encountered the OKC Zoo for 120 years.

Oklahoma City community leaders, Don and Carolyn Zachritz, are being recognized for their dedication to advancing the beautification of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and beyond. Don and Carolyn’s passion and appreciation for enhancing outdoor spaces and gardens with beautiful botanicals can be enjoyed by guests of all ages when they visit the Zoo.

Distinguished honorees Kirkpatrick Foundation and Kirkpatrick Family Fund are being acknowledged for championing a shared mission with OKC Zoo of caring for, connecting with and conserving wildlife. Through their philanthropic endeavors, The Kirkpatrick Foundation and Kirkpatrick Family Fund have supported the growth and vision of the OKC Zoo for decades. This includes supporting the Zoo’s goal of advancing its first-class veterinary care program with the construction of the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital. This state-of-the-art, two-story animal hospital, includes a visitor gallery, surgical and radiology areas, food-preparation and labs. OKC Zoo guests have the unique opportunity to observe exams happening at the hospital, giving them an advanced look at the extraordinary health care the Zoo provides to its animal family.

                On Friday, June 3, OKC Zoo Gala guests will experience a memorable night of dining and celebrating under the stars as they enjoy delicious cocktails, a live auction, a three-course African inspired dinner created by Rococo Restaurant and Fine Wine and the evening’s honoree program. Additionally, Bandan Koro, a Dallas based African drum and dance ensemble, will be performing at the Gala sharing their art and talents with guests.

Though the OKC Zoo Gala is sold out, there’s an opportunity to be part of the party scene. Wildlife fans 21 and older are invited to join us for the Twilight After Party presented by Devon Energy on Friday, June 3, from 9 p.m. to midnight, to dance the night away in your best “Safari Chic” and support the OKC Zoo. Entry to the Twilight After Party is $75/person and each ticket includes event admission, two complimentary drink tickets, hors d’oeuvres, food truck access, photo opportunities, a silent auction, dancing, an opportunity to visit the Herpetarium and unlimited carousel rides.

Twilight After Party tickets are limited and advance reservations are required, no tickets will be sold at the gate. Get your tickets here for the Twilight After Party before they disappear.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Consider becoming a ZOOfriends member or renewing your membership before visiting the Zoo. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. 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, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free.

Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.