The Oklahoma Zoological Society (OZS) is pleased to announce the exciting expansion and relaunch of ZOOtroop, a young professional's organization in support of the Oklahoma City Zoo. The program is now offering open enrollment to all young professionals, who can sign up to enjoy exclusive access to volunteer opportunities, behind-the-scenes animal encounters with select Zoo animals, networking events, and more. ZOOtroop participants are required to commit to one year of volunteerism.

ZOOtroop was originally created in 2012 as a LOYAL (Linking Oklahoma's Young Adult Leaders) Action Project and served as an application-based program capped at 25 members. The current ZOOtroop leadership team, led by President Tiffany Lea Haendel, restructured the program to provide two components: a paid ZOOtroop membership open to any and all young professionals and an application-based ZOOtroop Council comprised of approximately 15 leaders who plan and execute programming for the larger ZOOtroop organization.

“Oklahoma City is rich with young leaders looking to make a difference,” said Mandy Heaps, executive director of the Oklahoma Zoological Society. “We are thrilled to provide such an opportunity through membership in ZOOtroop. Members will deepen their understanding of how the Zoo impacts Oklahoma City, connect with like-minded professionals around a shared passion for animals and conservation, and take meaningful conservation action through volunteer opportunities.”

Already, members have had the exclusive opportunity in the first month of ZOOtroop to go behind-the-scenes at the Zoo’s elephant barn for an up-close encounter with the OKC Zoo’s newest Asian elephant calf, Rama, and talk with the Zoo’s elephant and rhino caretakers about his care and personality as well as how wildlife fans can assist with worldwide elephant conservation efforts.  

“Being able to have the behind the scenes look with baby Rama was awesome,” said ZOOtroop new member Cole Wallace, “Experiencing it with the rest of ZOOtroop is really what made it special. Everyone is passionate about conservation and understands the importance of what makes the Zoo such a special place.”

Other upcoming programming includes a lecture and Q&A on April 19 with Kim Leser, the OKC Zoo’s behavioral husbandry and welfare manager, about her role in working with the Zoo’s animal caretakers to advance zoo-wide training and enrichment programs, and a zoo-themed trivia night later this spring.   

All members must be 21+ to join ZOOtroop, but there are no other age restrictions or term limits in place. For $65/person/year, ZOOtroop members enjoy the following:

  • Early and/or exclusive access to ZOOtroop events 
  • Early and/or exclusive access to OKC Zoo “hard hat” tours and exhibit soft openings 
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes and volunteer opportunities 
  • Educational opportunities and lectures 
  • Networking opportunities 
  • A monthly ZOOsounds newsletter
  • An opportunity to be elected to ZOOtroop Council, the governing body who organizes

programming for the ZOOtroop membership. 

Learn more about ZOOtroop at