Tulsa Zoo Turns 90 Thanks to Will O. Doolittle

EARLY VISITORS: The Tulsa Zoo has always been a popular place for visitors, but in days of yesteryear the Zoo was especially popular on Sunday’s after church services. Above, visitors meander around Monkey Island, always a popular spot for attendees at the Tulsa Zoo.

Photo courtesy Tulsa Zoo

The Tulsa Zoo’s gates first opened in September of 1928, thanks to Will O. Doolittle, then Tulsa Parks Superintendent, who proposed the creation of a zoo infused with conservation ideals.

Doolittle was a passionate naturalist, a man who believed close contact with nature was a great public benefit. He believed a zoo would aid in preserving many species of native mammals, birds, and reptiles that are approaching extinction, and argued that a central purpose of a zoo is to provide a properly planned and maintained collection of living animals to offer an educational experience for the public.

Today, the zoo continues the tradition of high standards for animal care, education and conservation as a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

“AZA accreditation signifies that the Tulsa Zoo is committed to meeting the very highest standards in the zoological profession,” said President and Dan Ashe. “It means that the Tulsa Zoo is a proven leader in animal care and welfare and in providing educational and meaningful experiences for visitors.”

Continuously accredited for more than 40 years, the Tulsa Zoo continues to meet ever-rising standards in animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety. requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the association.

“Tulsa can be proud of the zoo for maintaining a commitment to high standards of animal care, for increasing our contribution to global wildlife conservation and for serving as an educational resource in the community,” said Tulsa Zoo President and Terrie Correll. “As I reflect on the past 90 years, I appreciate the staff, past and present, who have helped the zoo inspire generations to care for the natural world.”

Visit the Tulsa Zoo’s 90th anniversary exhibit, inside the Robert J. LaFortune WildLIFE Trek Life in the Cold Exhibit, to discover how the zoo has and will continue to evolve. Guests can see the zoo’s progress toward its master plan by visiting the Lost Kingdom exhibit complex, the Osage Casino & Hotel Giraffe Barn, and the Mary K. Chapman Rhino Reserve.

Updated 09-13-2018

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