Two new grants and a new partnership will help the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden continue to lead the way in sustainability practices.

OKC Zoo Sustainability Coordinator, Kelly Dillow helped secure grants from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) worth a total of $532,000 for upcoming sustainability projects.

“The Zoo as a whole is committed to sustainability and being a leader in environmental responsibility in Oklahoma,” said Dillow. “We’re excited to be working with like-minded partners such as DEQ and ACOG to bring these new projects to light.”

The DEQ grant, worth $250,000, will pay for the installation of recycled rubberized asphalt with the construction of the Zoo’s next major expansion, a new marine mammal habitat, Shore to Sea. This project is expected to divert more than 50 million Oklahoma tires from landfills and incineration while improving the lifespan and performance of the asphalt.

"Diverting tires from landfills and illegal dumps for beneficial reuse has a positive impact on the environment and the health of Oklahomans. Demonstrating this reuse will help develop the emerging market for ground tire rubber. DEQ is pleased to award this funding to the Oklahoma City Zoo and excited to see this project come to fruition," said Kelly Dixon, DEQ's Land Protection Division Director. 

The ACOG award of $282,000 will upgrade six Zoo vehicles from gas to electric and add a pair of solar-powered covered carports to the Zoo grounds, serving as charging stations for both electric vehicles and carts.

“Electric vehicles not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they have significantly lower maintenance costs,” Dillow added. “This is a win-win for the environment and the Zoo.”

Eric Pollard, ACOG Air Quality and Clean Cities Manager, said the ACOG Public Fleet Clean Air Grant is funded through the Congestion Mitigation of Air Quality Improvement Program, which helps local governments and public trusts fund transportation projects that meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

“We are excited to award the Zoo for this ambitious project,” Pollard said. “This project will be visible to the public and shows renewable energy generation from solar panels which will provide electricity to the charging stations below for electric vehicles to charge up.”

This is in addition to publicly available electric vehicle charging stations already installed on the west side of the Zoo’s parking lot.

The Zoo recently partnered with Oklahoma City-based Fertile Ground Cooperative on a Community Compost Grant. ACOG was awarded a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pilot a community composting program. Fertile Ground, the sub-awardee, is partnering with the Zoo and other organizations to establish community compost drop-off sites throughout the metro.

“By joining forces, the OKC Zoo and Fertile Ground are not only collecting compostable materials, we are also enriching our local ecosystem and fostering a culture of environmental stewardship within our community,” said Terry Craghead, CEO and Worker-Owner at Fertile Ground Cooperative. “Together, we are nurturing a greener, healthier future for Oklahomans.”

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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