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Thread: New train at the zoo

  1. #1
    Patrick Guest

    Default New train at the zoo

    Well, I'm sure many of you remember the old railed train at the OKC Zoo....we had a railed train for many many years, but in the late 80's, early 90's it was removed, in favor of a rubber wheeled train/tram! Well, I emailed the zoo director, and he said that there are plans to bring a railed train back to the zoo. He said the rails will be put in place this fall, and the train should be back in action in either late fall or early spring! I thought this was really great news, because I miss the old railed train at the zoo. I think it added a lot to the zoo! I know the Tulsa Zoo still has theirs!

    Well, just thought I'd give you the update. Oh by the way, they'll still offer the tram too, because the tram can just get so much to the animals!!! But, the train will go throughout the whole park, and will not only show visitor's the park, but will be a great new ride at the zoo!

    Also, wasn't sure if you'd heard but the new $8.5 million Oklahoma trails exhibit will break ground this fall! It should be open by mid to late 2006. As you know, it will contain species from all over the state...bears (yeah, we're finally getting bears back at the zoo), bison, long horns, otters, etc. I can't remember all of the animals the exhibit will offer, but I know it will be a pretty large exhibit......it will be on the same caliber as the Great EscApe and the Cat Forest/Lion Overlook!
    Our zoo continues to improve, and I'm glad to see every new development!

  2. Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Definitely glad to see the improvements, but I have a qu.

    Does the zoo still have the overhead trams?

    The last time I was there (1999?) I went on a ride with relatives and it was great! I thought it really set OKCZoo apart from the traditional zoo in that it was an amusement ride of sorts as well.

    In addition, the overhead tram helped us locate our favourite places to visit, as we could get the bird's eye view. Our zoo is VERY big and the overhead tram along with the ground tram and the re-introduced train will definitely set us apart from everyone else.

    Perhaps we could move up from our current #3 best zoo ranking?
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  3. #3

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    There used to be an overhead tram at the OKC Zoo? I went to the OKC Zoo for the first time a few months ago and was really disappointed. I've always heard the zoo mentioned as "one of the top 10 in the nation" and was expecting something really spectacular. It wasn't bad, but not one of the top 10 in the nation! The coolest exhibit was the Great EscAPE. Otherwise I'd have to say I enjoy the Tulsa Zoo a lot better.

  4. #4
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    You enjoyed theTulsa Zoo better? Really? My fiancee and I went there a few weeks ago and thought it was the worst zoo we'd ever been too.

    Here were some of my gripes:

    1. The grounds were very poorly kept. No flowers, no gardens, no landscaping, poorly kept grass, etc. One thing that gives the Oklahoma City zoo such distinction is the fact that it's not only a zoo...but also a certified botanical garden. The OKC Zoo is covered with many species of trees, shrubs, flowers, ornamental plants, etc. I'd have to say that since it is also a botanical garden, it probably has the nicest landscaping out of any zoo I've seen.

    2. My second gripe involves facilities. I was extremely unhappy with the Tulsa Zoo because many of the buildings were old and not maintained......the new penguin exhibit appeared to be just an old run down exhibit that they threw some new animals into, and there just weren't that many animals at the zoo as a whole. A pamphlet about the zoo claims that it has over 5,000 animals......after visiting there, I tend to question where that figure came from. It may have 500 animals! The Tulsa Zoo had no apes, no wild dogs, an extremely small facility for Giraffes.....I must say, the Tulsa Zoo really needs to invest in real doors between it's buildings as well. Plastic flaps that you'd find at the airport baggage claim area were really unattractive. Seemed to me like most of the Tulsa Zoo's exhibits were like the old OKC Zoo....old concrete pits. The exhibits were very poorly marked and didn't explain anything about the animals present. They really need to create a larger and more attractive entrance. Again, the Tulsa Zoo's entrance reminds me of the old, unattractive entrance at the OKC Zoo....no longer there. Sure the animals at the Tulsa Zoo were easy to spot, but many of the cages and exhibits just weren't very nice for the animals that had to live there.
    I didn't really think the Tulsa Zoo had anything that could be compared to Aquaticus, Cat Forest/Lion Overlook, Great EscApe, our giraffe exhibit, etc. I guess one area we could work on is our Pachyderm area, but it definitely isn't any worse than Tulsa's.

    3. Also, I expected the Tulsa Zoo to be a lot larger. The OKC Zoo is about twice the size (maybe even three times the size if you include the ara curently under construction) of the Tulsa Zoo. In addition, there's a lot of empty open space between exhibits at the Tulsa Zoo. At the OKC Zoo everything is very compact and together. There's no wasted space. It's all built up! Wasted space is put to use for the animals' benefit!

    4. Another complaint I had with the Tulsa Zoo was it's overall lack of organization. At the OKC Zoo, animals are ogranized by type. Primates are all in the Great EscApe. Marine life is in Aquaticus. Birds are located just west of the Aquaticus. Cats are locate din the Cat Forest/Lion Overlook. Hooved stock have much of the west side of the zoo. Wild dogs have the far west end of the zoo. Etc. The Tulsa Zoo had very little organization.

    In my opinion, our Pachyderm house is a good resemblance of the entire Tulsa Zoo.....old and outdated!

    I guess I need to balance out my criticism of the Tulsa Zoo with something positive......the new Rainforest Exhibit at the Tulsa Zoo was pretty nice. But it was the only exhibit that looked halfway new.

    I've been to many of the nation's top zoo's. I must say, in my opinion, the OKC Zoo is very comparable to those. The Great EsCape, Aquaticus, and the Cat Forest/Lion/Overlook have all been rated as some of the finest facilities in the nation of their kind. The new zoo entrance is unbeatable. We actually have a for real restaurant at our zoo...the Canopy Restaurant. It's first class.
    We've poured well over $50 mill into our zoo over the past 10 or so years, while Tulsa, for the most part, has kept the same old exhibits that have been there for years. I personally think the Tulsa Zoo needs some work!

    Just curious, what didn't you like about the OKC zoo?

    1. It could be that they are currently under construction....half the zoo is currently closed to build the new Oklahoma Trails Exhibit, an $8.5 mill exhibit covering about 1/4 to 1/3 of the zoo park. So currently our zoo is about 2/3 of the size it normally is.

    2. One thing I could think of that you might not have liked about the OKC Zoo was the fact that in some exhibits the animals can be hard to find. But that's just part of the natural habitat of the exhibits. The OKC Zoo has tried to go away from exhibits that are more open to public viewing (such as cages and concrete pits), in favor of more natural habitats like the Great EscApe and Cat Forest/Lion Overlook, along with the hoove stock areas, the Wild Dog exhibits, etc.

    Anyways, just wanted to know your reasoning and express my opinion. I agree our zoo isn't as nice as San Diego's, but it's every bit as nice as Washington D.C.'s, New Yorks, Dallas, San Antonio, St. Louis, etc.

    I just cannot agree with you that the Tulsa Zoo is nicer than the OKC Zoo! I must not be alone in my thinking, because when I was at the Tulsa Zoo, I spoke with several Tulsa residents there at the zoo, and they agreed that the Tulsa Zoo was not very attractive, and the OKC Zoo made the Tula Zoo look sick!

    Anyways, this is just my opinion. So please take it as that. It's not meant to offend anyone...just my opinion of what I saw.

  5. #5
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Hey Hot Rod,

    Actually the ski lift overhead tram is no longer there. Not sure why they took it out. It might be because there just weren't that many people that used the facility! I'll email the zoo director and ask for sure. The only problem could see with it was that it wasn't really that long of a ride and only stretched over the northern edge of the zoo. It might've been more worthwhile if it would've stretched over a larger part of the zoo.

  6. #6
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Yeah, actually the OKC Zoo is currently ranked #3 in the country. The San Diego Zoo is # 2. I forget who #1 is.

  7. #7

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    The Tulsa Zoo doesn't have a nice entrance? It was redone several years ago, and you cross a bridge over a creek where you can see turtles swimming down below. The Rainforest building is a lot better than any exhibit OKC has, and the buildings for the polar bears, penguins, chimpanzees, and elephants are pretty nice. The primate building is terrible, and the living museam, while a cool concept, needs a complete renovation.

    I was at the OKC Zoo on a brisk March day, so there weren't very many people there. That could be one of the reasons I had a bad first impression. The landcaping you speak of wasn't there because it was still winter. There was some construction going on, good to know they are making the exhibits better. I guess I really need to go back when it's nice out and the landscaping is in bloom and have another look. Then I will give you a real comparison, having just been to the Tulsa Zoo not too long ago.

  8. #8
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    I could've been at the Tulsa Zoo on a bad day as well, so I'll definitely go back!
    Again, nothing against the Tulsa Zoo, I was just expressing what my impressions were at the time. And know you were doing the same with the OKC Zoo. I respect that! I didn't realize the entrance at the Tulsa Zoo was new. It reminds me of the entrance the OKC Zoo had for well over 20 years......at the OKC Zoo you used to cross over a series of bridges to reach the ticket booth! The bridges crossed over streams with fish and other animals in them.

    I won't disagree with you on the Rainforest exhibit. It was nice!

    At the Tulsa Zoo there wasn't really a building for the penguins! I guess you could say there's a small house out there for them to go into when it rains. That's about all I saw.

    I know I listed several complaints about the Tulsa Zoo, but I guess my main complaint was landscaping, or total lack of! I think if they worked on that a little, everything else would look a lot nicer! Truth is several of the OKC Zoo's buildings are old too, but the landscaping makes up for it.

    Concerning the Tulsa Zoo...I think I got a bad first impression by the first exhibit I went to.....I went to the Lafortune North American Living Museum Complex, consisting of the Tundra, Desert, Forest, and Lowland. That probably set the stage for my overall opinion of the rest of the zoo. Next time I'm in Tulsa I'll take another look at the zoo and try to judge it a little differently. By the way, we visited the Tulsa Zoo in early June 2004.

    There's been so much construction going on at our zoo the past 10 years, that it's really been hard to show up at a good time! Like I said, 1/3 of our zoo right now is completely under construction. They're basically leveling our zoo and building a whole new one. It all started with the Great EscApe.
    The biggest complaint I hear about the OKC Zoo is that there's never a non-construction moment out there!
    But, I'm glad to see the continued improvements! Many years ago we voted a permanent 1/4 cent sales tax to fund these continued improvements, so they probably won't stop anytime soon.

  9. Cool Re: New train at the zoo

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick
    Yeah, actually the OKC Zoo is currently ranked #3 in the country. The San Diego Zoo is # 2. I forget who #1 is.
    Patrick, I think Bush Garden is #1. But hey, #3 is not bad especially considering the company!!!!
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  10. #10
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Yeah, that's it! Thanks Hot Rod!

  11. #11
    Patrick Guest

    Default 3rd best zoo for children

    This wasn't the ranking I had seen before, but apparently the OKC Zoo was also ranked #3 in the country for children!
    Here's the article:

    "Zoo named one of best for children
    May 6, 2004

    By Karen Klinka
    The Oklahoman

    The Oklahoma City Zoological Park & Botanical Garden has been named the third-best zoo in the nation for children by Child magazine.
    Zoo Executive Director Bert Castro said he was "absolutely delighted" to receive the No. 3 spot on the magazine's 10 Best Zoos for Kids list, and considers it to be a prestigious ranking.
    everything from interactive features to educational programs to staff-to- visitor ratios.
    The results will appear in the magazine's June/July issue, which will be on newsstands nationwide May 18. The article also can be viewed online at www.child.com.
    Among the Oklahoma City Zoo attractions to receive kudos from the magazine was its "monthly stroller safari, a guided tour for toddlers given by a naturalist who examines insects, leaves, plants and other things at their eye level."
    The magazine also lauded the zoo's "free family-activity packet designed to fine-tune children's observational skills, such as finding colors and patterns throughout the zoo," and its new $1.1 million Jungle Gym playground that opened in April.
    For the survey, Child magazine evaluated more than 150 institutions belonging to the American Zoo & Aquarium Association, Castro said.
    The categories included the number and quality of exhibits, presence of a children's zoo, educational programs for school trips and summer vacation, staff-to- visitor ratios, animal care and conservation efforts.
    Some of the questions also dealt with "family conveniences" like rest rooms with diaper-changing tables, as well as security and safety measures, Castro said.
    Child magazine editors told zoo officials that Oklahoma City missed getting the top spot by just two points, Castro said."

  12. #12
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Here's a link to the top 10 list for children!


    By the way, it's important to list, that the Tulsa Zoo was ranked #16 on the list!

  13. #13

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    I'd really like to see a master plan for the OKC Zoo, does anyone know where I could find one? With regard to the construction, is it just remodeling of existing buildings or expansion? Does the zoo have adjacent land to expand onto in the future?

    I think some kind of signature exhibit would be good for the OKC Zoo. The Great EsAPE is nice and unique (not too many zoos have gorillas) but I'm thinking something bigger. Don't do the rainforest thing, Tulsa already has that and it's their "signature" exhibit. Omaha has one too that's even better than Tulsa's. Maybe a big aquarium? OKC doesn't have one, the only one in Oklahoma is in Jenks and it's a HUGE attraction. That aquarium alone is spurring a ton of new development in downtown Jenks and along the river next to it. Or even a panda bear habitat? That would be cool.

  14. #14
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Our zoo already has Aquaticus which is basically smaller scale aquarium!

    The new Oklahoma Trails exhibit will be just like past projects....complete demolition and rebuilding of the area! No renovations! Everything will be new. Our zoo doesn't typically do renovations, but instead introduces completely new facilities. Aquaticus, Great EscApe, and the Cat Forest/Lion Overlookwee all built from the ground up, after demolishing other exhibits.

    Actually I'm not sure if OKC doesn't already have signature attractions. In 1999, the Great EscApe was ranked the top zoo exhibit in the country. In 2003, the Cat Forest/Lion Overlook received that distinction. What else can you ask for?

    I do think a panda bear exhibit would be cool, but our chances of getting panda bears are slim to none. I believe only a select few zoos in the nation currently have pandas.

  15. #15
    Joe Schmoe Guest

    Lightbulb Re: New train at the zoo

    Unfortunately the City zoo didn't put enough money into Aquaticus & kept killing the dolphins. Bad publicity, killing friends of Flipper.

    Major attractions should reflect the area they reside in, that way you can be assured of being unique. Teach us more about our area while knocking our socks off.

    I would like to see some stuff about Oklahoma when it was a prehistoric seabed. Unless they can get into paleobiological reproduction, the exhibit would be static (not cool.)

    Not practical & more suited to a museum, but the point is to make the big exhibit specific to our area. That would ensure it's unique stature.

    Think how cool it would be to have a "Jurassic Park" style sea exhibit.

    Okay, I've had enough coffee this morning.

  16. Default Re: New train at the zoo

    The tram and the Gondolas were purchased from one of the World's fairs several years ago. In fact, I think it was the New York World's Fair held circa 1964. They were unique at the time, but are probably now outdated.

    We could use the trams for visitor transport from the lots.

  17. #17
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    They're still going to keep the Safarri tram for viewing animals throughout the zoo. In regards to the Gondola, I emailed the zoo director, and he said it was dismantled for two reasons: 1. Safety issues! 2. No one was riding it! Moreso, #2.

    In regards to Joe's reply, I think a Jurassic Park style exhibit would be pretty cool at the zoo. I agree with you that the zoo needs to reflect the area around it. That's why I'm happy to see the new Oklahoma Trails Exhibit being built!

    In regards to the dolphins dying......not sure if that might not have been more due to who they were leasing them from. Studies showed that the dolphins wee contaminated prior to coming to the zoo! But, I'm sure other factors didn't help. For one thing, our dolphin pool is extremely small. Secondly, the weather changes here just aren't very good for dolphins! One thing you have to remember.....prior to the dolphin show being canceled, the city closed the exhibit for well over 6 months, and poured quite a bit of money in revamping it!
    Regardless, the Fin's and Feather's show with seals, sea lions, and birds isn't a bad replacement.

    Keep drinking coffee Joe! I like your ideas!

  18. #18

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    1At the Tulsa Zoo I didn't like the polar bear exhibit because most of it was dirt. The bear would get out of the water, and roll in the dirt, and then it wasn't white anymore. You want to see a white polar bear, and every time I have been there it is an ugly red/brown.

    I have been hoping for years that Oklahoma City Zoo could get a panda, but they are extremely hard to get. They are only loaned from China, and they can take them back for their own breeding program.

  19. #19
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    I have to add to this thread. Since I started this thread, I've been out to the zoo, and I must say, I think the new train is sort of a joke. I imagine it being like the old train that used to circle the entire zoo. This new train actually makes a pretty short track. That's why they've kept the Safari Tram. I like our zoo, but I think this is something we could've done better with.

  20. Default Re: New train at the zoo

    I was wondering how the new train panned out.

    I think the zoo needs to be careful to expanding its attractions as well as providing a means for transportation of guests. Just think if there were an extensive propane/natural gas powered rail network/system where people could hop on/off at select destinations/attractions. That would put OKC's zoo in a class of its own and certainly would allow the zoo to expand yet still be reachable for residents and tourists.

    This should be in addition to keeping the rubber Safari Tram (and adding others) and adding back the overhead SkyTram (just extend its route). What a tourist attraction this would be (and add'l dollars for the zoo).

    I say, go big time!!
    Oklahoma City, the RENAISSANCE CITY!

  21. Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Didn't they move the overhead tram baskets gondolla (sp) thing to the OKC fairgrounds? I thought it was in the midway/rides section now.

  22. #22
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Quote Originally Posted by BailJumper View Post
    Didn't they move the overhead tram baskets gondolla (sp) thing to the OKC fairgrounds? I thought it was in the midway/rides section now.
    I think you're right.

  23. #23

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    I would like to see some documentation, anywhere other than a Children's mag (that really was only ranking zoos for kids, and that ranking was years ago now) that says OKCs zoo is anywhere near the best.

    Number three, give me a friggin' break.

  24. #24
    Patrick Guest

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    Quote Originally Posted by Swake2 View Post
    I would like to see some documentation, anywhere other than a Children's mag (that really was only ranking zoos for kids, and that ranking was years ago now) that says OKCs zoo is anywhere near the best.

    Number three, give me a friggin' break.
    I actually agree. But, Tulsa's zoo, although they won a popularity contest, is nowhere near the top either.

  25. #25

    Default Re: New train at the zoo

    I've been going to OKC Lincoln Park zoo since the early 60's and have always loved it. My last visit was in early October and I was somewhat disappointed. I had heard a few years back they were going to have a large bear area by 2005, don't know what happened to that. I emailed in my comments and never heard from anyone.

    The Oklahoma wildlife is NOT a good idea in my opinion. I want to see more ZOO ANIMALS! More monkeys, (anyone remember the old ship of monkeys at the old enntrance?) bears, African elephants, MALE lions and tigers, camels, regular hippopotamus', etc. NOT Oklahoma animals.

    I don't beleive no one was riding the sky ride, that's a crock! I rode it every time I visited it with my kids and we loved it! It always had lots of riders. The REAL reason is probably the almighty dollar. Too costly to operate and maintain. It's too bad our society sacrafices the best things in life because they are not profitable!

    OKC Lincoln Park needs to refocus on being a zoo for the people. Do you think in a survey most people would prefer to see a buffalo, coyote, deer, raccoons, etc..or the exotic animals mentioned above???


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