Following the grand opening of the new Expedition Africa, presented by the Inasmuch Foundation, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) teamed up for the third annual OKC Zoo Gala, Roaring Forward, raising $357,000 for conservation projects and continued improvements.

Presented by John and Claudia Holliman Affiliated Fund, the 2024 OKC Zoo Gala recognized dedicated groups and individuals whose support of the Oklahoma City Zoo has been invaluable to its mission of connecting Oklahomans with the world's wildlife and wild places. The 2024 OKC Zoo Gala Legacy Honorees included the Ad Astra Foundation, Linda Rosser McDaniel, and Morton Payne.

“From the beginning, OZS has been a proud supporter of the Zoo,” said Mandy Heaps, Oklahoma Zoological Society executive director. “But none of that would be possible without our Zoo Gala honorees and others who care so deeply for our treasured Zoo. Their support ensures the Zoo will continue to grow and thrive as a premiere destination for Oklahomans to connect with the wild world around them in the years to come.”

“The last few years have seen incredible growth and progress at the Zoo and we are thankful for the support and generosity of our donors who are so dedicated to our continued success,” said Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director/CEO. “We’re especially grateful for this year’s honorees and OZS, whose hard work and enthusiasm for the Zoo’s mission is integral to our future.”



  • Ad Astra Foundation is being honored for its commitment to the ZOOfund for Kids initiative, which provides unique Zoo experiences to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have access to Zoo field trips, and generously helps further new and expanding exhibits at the Zoo.
  • Linda Rosser McDaniel started her Zoo journey when she volunteered as part of her service with the Junior League of Oklahoma City, helping initiate outreach education programs and the first playground built by the League at the Zoo in 1976. Linda and her late husband, Ron Rosser, advocated for the passage of a 1/8th-of-a-cent sales tax supporting Zoo operations and capital projects and made significant contributions to the expansion of the Rosser Conservation Education Center.
  • Morton Payne‘s lifelong love of wildlife and wild places led him to spearhead the sales tax initiative to ensure a new and stable future for the OKC Zoo. He was instrumental in the creation of Oklahoma City’s Adventure District, helping to provide ongoing revenue and support for both the Zoo and the Oklahoma Zoological Society. His beautification efforts stretch well beyond the Zoo, having added more trees and green spaces to the Oklahoma City landscape.

               The OKC Zoo Gala was held on Friday, June 7, in Baobab Plaza in the new Expedition Africa expansion at the Zoo. Funds were raised through ticket sales, live and silent auctions, and generous gifts from attendees.

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.

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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