A partnership between the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and OG&E will inspire young Oklahomans love of literacy and nature for the eighth year with the statewide Read for Adventure library program.

Sponsored by Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E), Read for Adventure is a program with a dual goal: inspiring students and their families to read and taking conservation action for monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

At the center of the program is the original children’s book, Juniper’s Butterfly Garden–A Small Start for a Better World. Beginning Monday, June 3, library card holders are encouraged to check out and read Juniper’s Butterfly Garden from more than 200 participating Oklahoma public or tribal library locations. When they return the book, they will receive a voucher redeemable for free general admission to the OKC Zoo for up to four people (child, adult or senior).

Now in its eighth year, Read for Adventure has brought more than 60,000 Oklahomans the opportunity to visit and enjoy the OKC Zoo at no cost.

“We couldn’t make Read for Adventure possible without the generous support of OG&E and our library partners across the state,” said Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director and CEO. “Not only are we connecting young readers with a wonderful book and, we hope, a lifetime love of reading, but Read for Adventure is also inspiring a new generation to appreciate nature and take positive conservation action.”

“We are excited to spark a passion for reading in young Oklahomans and energize their curiosity in the outdoors and ways to preserve and protect the iconic Monarch butterfly and other pollinators,” said OG&E’s manager of community outreach and engagement Kelli Hayward Walsh. “We love working with the OKC Zoo to help get kids outside enjoying the outdoors and learning more about wildlife and habitat conservation.”

Read for Adventure’s original children’s book, Juniper’s Butterfly Garden, was written by Oklahoma City resident and OKC Zoo’s Creative Services Manager, Autumn Heigle, and illustrated by Nadia Ronquillo. Heigle was inspired by the Zoo’s commitment to monarch conservation when writing this story about a child’s passion and determination to help monarch butterflies by creating habitat space for these vital pollinators. Readers will also find resources in the back of the book about planting a garden for monarchs and other pollinators and their migratory path through Oklahoma. 

The iconic monarch butterfly is one of the most celebrated butterflies in North America, but it’s a species in trouble. Insect pollinator populations, including monarchs, around the world are in sharp decline, because of habitat loss and widespread pesticide use. The monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent in the last 20 years because of habitat loss and 2024 was the second-worst year ever for the majestic butterflies.

Migrating monarchs funnel through Oklahoma in the spring and fall and their lengthy migration is made easier by people planting pollinator gardens where the butterflies can rest, eat, and lay eggs. The OKC Zoo and OG&E recognize the importance of these pollinators and the urgency of restoring their population and protecting their seasonal habitat, and Read for Adventure shares with Oklahomans how they can help monarchs thrive by planting habitat for them in their own yards, community or school gardens. 

Read for Adventure Zoo admission vouchers are redeemable through June 30, 2025. Vouchers can be redeemed at the Zoo’s ticket windows. For additional details about Read for Adventure including a downloadable coloring page and list of participating libraries, visit www.okczoo.org/readforadventure.

Spread your wings and get ready to Read for Adventure! 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 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, 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 www.okczoo.org/membership

Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, X, Instagram, Linktree and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.