The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, in partnership with Oklahoma’s Own News 9, announces the launch of a new digital toolkit that provides STEM focused curriculum for educators and parents to access online at no cost. These online lesson plans available at www.news9.com/teachertools are ideal for students in kindergarten through fifth grade and centered around monarch and gorilla conservation.
Each grade specific lesson plan features engaging resources, detailed facilitator guides, downloadable worksheets, video links and more, to assist educators and parents with communicating about wildlife conservation in a concise and memorable way.
“We are extremely grateful to News 9 for creating this community resource and helping us bring conservation education to life in the classroom,” said Dr. Rebecca Snyder, OKC Zoo’s senior director of conservation, science and education. “This curriculum is designed to spark classroom conversations, curiosity and encourage these young Oklahomans to take action for wildlife and wild places.”
“We’re so excited to have partnered with the Oklahoma City Zoo to offer this world class curriculum to Oklahoma teachers and parents,” said Sam Roop, Griffin Media’s sales promotions manager. “It’s a great way to learn more about monarchs and gorillas and how you can help with their conservation. We saw this as a natural extension of our partnership with the Zoo and fits with our mission to keep Oklahomans safe, informed and entertained.”
News 9 has joined the OKC Zoo on conservation trips to Mexico and Africa to connect Oklahomans to the conservation efforts the Zoo is supporting to aid monarch butterflies and gorillas. Following these trips, News 9 reported on the overwintering sites for the endangered monarch butterfly that migrates through Oklahoma and the successful conservation partnerships for gorillas in Rwanda. News personalities shared their first-hand experiences centered around conservation efforts for these spectacular species and their habitats, News 9 has informed and inspired Oklahomans to contribute to helping wildlife thrive.
Why monarchs and gorillas?
Oklahomans share a fondness for the iconic monarch butterfly which migrates annually through the Sooner state. However, monarch populations have decreased by about 90% over the last 20 years. In 2014, monarchs were petitioned to be listed under the federal Endangered Species Act and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classified the migratory monarch population as endangered. Monarchs face a number of threats to their populations including habitat loss and the use of pesticides. The OKC Zoo is helping monarch populations by creating habitat for pollinators throughout the park and being a resource for the public on establishing pollinator habitat in their own backyard or community. The Zoo also provides the OKC Living Classroom Grant Program encouraging local schools to apply for funds to create pollinator gardens at the schools, which are used as living classrooms to connect students with nature.
Gorillas are also an endangered species in need of conservation support. The OKC Zoo is committed to saving gorillas by contributing to Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. This organization uses science-based conservation to study and protect mountain gorilla populations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These intense conservation efforts have proven successful as mountain gorillas are the only great ape population that is currently increasing. Their population has increased from 620 individuals in 1989 to over 1,000 individuals today. The OKC Zoo is home to 10 Western lowland gorillas that live in two troops at its Great EscApe habitat.
To view OKC Zoo and News 9’s teacher toolkit in its entirety, visit www.news9.com/teachertools.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry at 4 p.m. 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 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. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, X, Instagram, Linktree, Threads and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Looking for a year of Zoo adventures? Consider a 12-month, ZOOfriends Membership Passport to the OKC Zoo providing general admission year-round and exclusive offers while supporting the Zoo’s ongoing animal care and conservation programs. Memberships can be purchased at okczoo.org/membership.