Oklahoma has many unique sanctuaries for animals that are open to the public. From large zoos to small foundations, there are many caring people that devote their time to protecting animal welfare and educating others. Many of the places in this article accept donations and volunteers and they welcome the opportunity to have you visit their animals during operating hours. If you’re looking for a fun activity, plan a day and visit one of these special places.
1. Endangered Ark Foundation: Hugo
North America's 2nd largest endangered Asian elephant herd is right here in Hugo, Oklahoma. You can experience a close encounter with the elephants and the staff will conduct interactive educational activities during your tour. Tours are only held on Saturdays, starting at 10:00 a.m.
2. Arbuckle Wilderness Park: Davis
Located in the beautiful Arbuckle Mountains and near Turner Falls, this wilderness park features a drive-thru safari road. Observe hundreds of exotic animals from your car and visit the petting zoo and reptile exhibit.
3. Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Foundation: Wynnewood
Visit hundreds of animals at this unique USDA approved zoo. The park is a living memorial and serves as a place for loved ones to remember those they have lost. Each animal represents a human life who has passed away. The park provides homes for many endangered species and has placed many of them in zoos and sanctuaries. You can choose to pay extra for a guided-tour or special playtime with baby tigers, ligers, bears, kangaroos, camels and goats.
4. Oklahoma Aquarium: Jenks
At the Oklahoma Aquarium you can see hundreds of aquatic animals and exhibits in a fun and educational way. You will also find one of the most unique shark exhibits in the world. Walk through a dome tunnel to see the largest bull sharks in captivity and don't forget to pet the stingrays.
5. Oklahoma City Zoo: Oklahoma City
Enjoy all the usual exhibits of a big zoo in Oklahoma City. From adorable sea lions to ferocious lions, your day will be filled from start to finish admiring all the animals and visiting the exhibits.
6. Orr Family Farm: Oklahoma City
This family-friendly farm has so much to do and see, so plan enough time for your visit. Choose from train rides, corn mazes, fishing, hay rides, pedal cars, pony rides and even a zip line. Please note: They are closed in July and August to prepare for the Fall Season.
7. Safari Joe's Exotic Wildlife: Adair
Safari Joe's is an exotic wildlife sanctuary housing over 250 animals at the park. Find many large cats (lions, tigers and leopards) reptiles and birds in the sanctuary. The park is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or you can book Safari Joe's for a special event.
8. Tiger Safari: Tuttle
Animal lover's will love this hidden gem in Tuttle, OK. Tiger Safari is an interactive exotic animal haven that is a must-visit. They offer sunset safaris, overnight camping and swimming with otters. You can even rent an authentic African village for a one-of-a-kind overnight experience.
9. Tulsa Zoo: Tulsa
Even though this zoo is well-known, it is worth mentioning as a favorite for animal lovers. In 2005, The Tulsa Zoo was named "Americas Favorite Zoo" by Microsoft Game Studios. Visitors of all ages enjoy the sea lions, monkeys, giraffes, zebras, penguins, bears, lions, tigers and many more animals. They also have a train that circles the outer perimeter of the park, making 2 stops for your convenience. A carousel, playground, ice cream stand and lunch pavilion are also located within the zoo.
10. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: Indiahoma
Located in southwestern Oklahoma, this wildlife refuge protects many plants, birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. Admission is free and you will find a visitor center and bookstore at the wildlife refuge.