New program aims to further connect guests who are deaf, hard of hearing to wildlife and wild places.
This spring, the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is initiating a new in-park program and providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters to create an enhanced Zoo visit for guests who are deaf and hard of hearing. ASL interpreters will be available the second Saturday of every month and present at the Zoo’s sea lion and elephant presentations plus, scheduled Wild Encounter experiences. This program begins Saturday, March 12, 2022, in time for the spring break holiday.
The OKC Zoo’s mission is to be the state’s premiere destination for connecting guests with the world’s vanishing wildlife and wild places. Some of the Zoo’s most engaging and memorable experiences are those led by our expert caretakers who speak about the animals in their care. By providing ASL interpreters for these opportunities, the Zoo is helping guests who are deaf and hard of hearing to better engage in these unique opportunities.
Zoo guests will not be charged a fee for the use of an ASL interpreter. On the second Saturday of each month, ASL interpreters will be positioned at the front of both the Zoo’s sea lion presentations at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Cost per person for the sea lion presentation is $5, children two and under are free to attend. Guests will also see an ASL interpreter at the Zoo’s free elephant presentations that occur at 2 p.m. in the elephant pavilion at Sanctuary Asia.
Additionally, an ASL interpreter will be available for all Wild Encounter experiences on the second Saturday of every month. Wild Encounters are the Zoo’s premium behind-the-scenes program offering a private tour for a limited number of guests led by expert animal caretakers. Wild Encounter participants enjoy an exclusive look at select Zoo habitats in addition to an up-close wildlife moment. OKC Zoo’s Wild Encounters feature the Zoo’s bears, bison, Indian rhinos, Galapagos tortoises, sea lions and Asian elephants. Advanced reservations are required for all Wild Encounters as they do sell out. Prices for Wild Encounters range from $40 to $50 per person in addition to the Zoo’s general admission. Reservations can be made online at www.okczoo.org.
According to The National Center for Health Statistics an estimated 28 million Americans (about 10% of the population) have some degree of hearing loss. About 2 million of these 28 million people are classified as deaf meaning they cannot hear every day sounds or speech even with a hearing aid. Only about 10% of these 2 million people were born deaf. The other 90% became deaf later in life. ASL is also the natural language of around 500,000 deaf people in the U.S. and Canada.
Take a break for an OKC Zoo day (or two!) this spring. The Oklahoma City Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets for general admission at www.okczoo.org/tickets. 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 $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. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.