Experience the Zoo’s wild take on Groundhog Day with weather predicting grizzlies, family-friendly activities, animal enrichment, Facebook Live videos and photo opportunities.
Are wintry days here to stay or is spring on its way? At the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, the bears have the say on Groundhog Day! Join the OKC Zoo and Bob Moore Subaru for this year’s annual Groundhog Day celebration with the Zoo’s grizzly and black bears, on Monday, January 31, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Yes, Groundhog Day comes early this year at the Zoo and hopefully spring will too.
The Zoo’s bears will be waking from a winter sleep just in time for Groundhog Day and putting their weather watching skills to the test as caretakers gave them the opportunity to go into torpor this year. During torpor, the bears are less active and their metabolism slows down significantly. Both the grizzly and black bears’ indoor habitats were adapted, temperatures lowered and lighting limited, to induce this natural behavior. The bears were given access to their outdoor habitat if they awoke during this time. Zoo caretakers have created tasty Groundhog Day-themed enrichment items for the OKC Zoo’s grizzly bear brothers, Will and Wiley, 19, to engage with as they try their “claws” at predicting when the seasons will change. OKC Zoo’s animal family does not include groundhogs so the grizzlies stand in as official Groundhog Day ambassadors. Make plans to attend this year’s Groundhog Day event happening from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Zoo’s Oklahoma Trails, Big Rivers building.
Activities are free with Zoo admission and include:
- Family-Friendly Activities and Conservation Education Station: View bio-facts, discover fun facts about the world’s bear species and discover how the Zoo is contributing to bear conservation from the Zoo’s experts.
- Children’s Story Time: Little ones are welcome to attend and hear a reading of Bear Snores On at 10:15 a.m.
- Facebook Live Chats with the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Tune in at www.facebook.com/okczoo.
- The Zoo’s designated “town crier” will read the official proclamation at 10:30 a.m. adding a festive element in the spirit of early Groundhog Day traditions.
- Animal Enrichment for the Zoo’s grizzly and black bears beginning by 10:45 a.m. at the grizzly and black bear habitats.
- A BEARy Good Cause! Members of the OKC Zoo’s Chapter of American Association of Zoo Keepers will have commemorative OktoBEARfest drinking glasses on display that are available for purchase in the Zoo’s Safari Gift Shop. All proceeds from the sale of these glasses goes to support bear conservation. Cost per glass is $6.
- Photo opportunities sponsored by Bob Moore Subaru.
OKC Zoo’s Groundhog Day Highlights, Bear Facts:
- The OKC Zoo is home to black bears, Maynard, 16 and Woody, 15; and grizzly bear brothers, Will and Wiley.
- Throughout its history, the OKC Zoo has enlisted the help of several Groundhog Day delegates including a bison, prairie dog and pot-bellied pigs.
- Bears were originally used to predict the weather in Europe but, when the population of bears decreased, a badger or “groundhog” filled in. Hence the name, Groundhog Day.
- Weather watching comes naturally for our bear pair. Bears were originally used to predict the weather in Europe but, when the population of bears decreased, a badger or “groundhog” filled in. Hence the name, Groundhog Day.
- Brown bears and black bears are omnivores.
- Bears primarily communicate through smells and sounds.
- There are eight bear species in the world. Six are listed as vulnerable.
- Bears plan an important role in the ecosystem, helping to control insect populations and dispersing seeds.
Bring on the bears! The Oklahoma City Zoo is in its winter hours and open Thursdays through Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. The park is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Wednesday, February 9. Purchase advance tickets for general admission at www.okczoo.org/tickets. 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, Linktree 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.