Groundhog Day is dedicated to the Zoo’s popular weather predicators, its bears! Enjoy family-friendly activities, animal enrichment, Facebook Live videos and photo opportunities.
“Paws” down the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden celebrates Groundhog Day in a wild way! Join the OKC Zoo for the fun and festivities of its annual Groundhog Day event happening on Thursday, February 2. Presented locally by Bob Moore Subaru, guests of all ages will discover a variety of activities centered around this wild weather holiday and the OKC Zoo’s grizzly bear brothers, Will and Wiley, and black bears, Maynard and Woody. Young Zoo guests are encouraged to bring their own plush bears to the event to see our bears who are the Zoo’s designated Groundhog Day animal ambassadors since it is not home to groundhogs.
Earlier this winter, the Zoo’s bears entered into torpor, a long period of increased sleep and decreased activity. Both the grizzly and black bears’ indoor habitats were modified to help indue this natural behavior with lower temperatures and limited lighting. If the bears awoke during this time, they were given access to their outdoor habitats and then back to their “dens” for more sleep. Caretakers are excited for the bears to wake up on Groundhog Day and shake the sleep to put their weather “fur”casting skills to the test. The Zoo’s bears will receive winter/spring-themed enrichment created for them by their caretakers, and guests will help determine if the black bears are calling it with spring coming along or the grizzly bears predict winter is prolonged. Groundhog Day is planned 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: Guests can try their hand at various interactive educational games and answering a “bear behavior” activity card.
- Conservation Education Station: Learn about the world’s bear species and how the Zoo is contributing to bear conservation from its expert caretakers.
- Children’s Story Time: Kiddos are welcome to attend and hear a reading of Bear Snores On at 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
- Facebook Live Chat with the Zoo’s carnivore caretakers at 9:30 a.m. Tune in at www.facebook.com/okczoo.
- Hear ye, hear ye! The Zoo’s designated “town crier” will read the official proclamation at 10:30 a.m. in celebration of early Groundhog Day traditions. Animal enrichment for the Zoo’s bears will immediately follow the proclamation reading.
- Teddy Bear Checkup Station: The vet is in! Little ones can take their plush teddy bears to this station for a quick checkup from our veterinary care team.
- 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 and available for purchase during the event. All proceeds from the sale of these glasses goes to support bear conservation. Cost per glass is $8.
- Photo Opportunities sponsored by Bob Moore Subaru.
- Guests can warm up, enjoy a free cup of hot chocolate while supplies last.
- Stop and shop the Zoo’s General Store, open during the event, to purchase commentative bear conservation wristbands and other wild souvenirs!
OKC Zoo’s Groundhog Day Highlights, Bear Facts:
- The OKC Zoo is home to black bears, Maynard, 17 and Woody, 16; and grizzly bear brothers, Will and Wiley who are turning 20 years old this year!
- This year, we are celebrating 20 years since our grizzly brothers made their journey to the OKC Zoo and joined our animal family. Although we do not know Will and Wiley’s exact birthday since they were orphaned in the wild, we are excited to celebrate two decades of caring for these beloved bears!
- Other Zoo ambassadors that have stepped in as Groundhog Day ambassadors include the bison, a 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.
- The Zoo’s bears are opportunistic omnivores. They eat fruits, veggies, leaves, meat, fish, insect, nuts, and seeds. What they eat and the amount changes seasonally in the wild and at the Zoo.
- Bears act as an umbrella species in their ecosystem. This means if we protect bears and their natural habitats, we also protect many other plants and animals.
- There are eight bear species in the world. Six are listed as vulnerable.
Groundhog Day is a bear affair at the OKC Zoo! The Oklahoma City Zoo is in its winter hours and open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry at 4 p.m., and closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through February 8, 2023. Purchase advance Zoo admission tickets at okczoo.org/tickets 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, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular daytime 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. Memberships can be purchased at www.okczoo.org/membership 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.