The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden recently welcomed new curators for animal areas, ungulates and primates.

                Bill Smith, an Alabama native, with experience at the Chattanooga Zoo and Audubon Zoo, is the OKC Zoo’s new Curator of Ungulates. The Zoo is home to several species of ungulates—another word for hoofed mammals—including American bison, okapi, and giraffe.

                “Bill comes to us with a rich background in hoofstock management, but he also has the experience and expertise in managing people,” said Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, OKC Zoo’s Chief Animal Programs Officer. “We know he’ll be a great help as we continue to elevate our hoofstock program, primarily with giraffe training in their new facility at Expedition Africa.”

Smith is particularly looking forward to connect visitors to the mixed species exhibits of Expedition Africa, including the Savanna, where giraffes, Nile lechwe, eland, and ostriches will interact.

“This shows people what naturally occurs, what it looks like to actually be in Africa,” he said. “That’s helpful as we educate people why it’s important to protect and save these species.”

                Shannon Charles-Ray has been promoted from senior animal caretaker of marine mammals to the OKC Zoo’s Curator of Primates.

                “I am so excited to be expanding my career and joining such a passionate and dedicated team with the primate department,” Charles-Ray said. “While my career spans almost 20 years with an emphasis with marine mammals, the two areas share many of the same core principles—creating engaging and dynamic environments through enrichment and progressive animal care through positive reinforcement principles.”

                D’Agostino said Charles-Ray’s leadership abilities and her advanced animal behavior background will be a major benefit for the primate team, which care for Western lowland gorillas, Sumatran orangutans, chimpanzees, ring-tailed lemurs, Francois langurs, and more.

                “Training is a big focus for the primate department, especially as it relates to medical training,” she said. “We’ve really wanted to elevate that program for a while and I think she’ll be the perfect person to help us advance.”

The Oklahoma City Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Through Labor Day, Monday, September 2, the Zoo is open daily at 8:30 a.m. for ZOOfriends with current memberships. 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.

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