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Wildlife Conservation and Zoos in Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s varied terrains make a perfect home for wildlife conservation and zoos. Get up close and personal with the second largest herd of Asian elephants in North America on a visit to the Endangered Ark Foundation in Hugo. Head to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton to see the buffalo, deer, elk, and cattle roam free. Or to Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in Broken Bow and check out the quail, turkeys, and waterfowl.
Over in OKC, set out for a wild adventure at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Home to over 1,700 animals, stroll through the Cat Forest & Lion Overlook and the Butterfly Garden, then take a safari tram around the zoo and stop off at the carousel and Swan Paddleboats. Little ones love the 2.5-acre Children’s Zoo, perfect for feeding the animals. The Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum located in Mohawk Park features a wide variety of species, ranging from Siberian Cranes, Grizzly Bears, jaguars, and giraffes, just to name a few. Stroll through natural habitats and check out exhibits like the Robert J. LaFortune Wild Life Trek and the Tropical American Rain Forest. The zoo is also heavily involved in wildlife conservation, including FrogWatch USA.
An iconic state landmark, Tucker Tower overlooks Lake Murray, near the southern Oklahoma town of Thackerville – less than two hours south of Oklahoma City.
Originally built by the Works Progress Administration as a summer retreat for former Governor William H. Murray, the building now serves as a nature center.
Throughout the Tucker Tower Nature Center, visitors find exhibits featuring the wildlife of the area, numerous fossils, and even a 288-pound meteorite discovered nearby.
During the summer months, educational programs are offered to nature lovers of all ages.
Tulsa Zoo & Living Museum
Drawing an annual average of 600,000 visitors, the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum serves the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Located in Mohawk Park, the zoo is heavily involved in conservation efforts, including FrogWatch USA and efforts championing ocean conservation.
Visitors will find a wide variety of animal habitats set among exhibits like the Robert J. LaFortune Wild Life Trek and the Tropical American Rain Forest.
Named “America’s Favorite Zoo” by Microsoft Game Studios, the Tulsa Zoo is home to Siberian Cranes, Grizzly Bears, jaguars, an anaconda, and a great many more animal species.
Buffalo Viewing in Oklahoma!
When visiting the Sooner State, it's important to take in its western heritage, big city attractions, and of course, the scenic landscapes. Outdoor Oklahoma features everything from recreation and relaxtion to wildlife viewing – even entire herds of buffalo.
So for you buffalo buffs out there, check out these seven spots across Oklahoma:
Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
Located in Pawhuska, Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is set in northeastern Oklahoma just northwest of the Tulsa metropolitan area – including cities like Owasso, Sand Springs, Broken Arrow, and Muskogee.
At 39,000 acres, TPP is the largest preserved tallgrass prairie in Oklahoma – and the world. The site protects 27,000-member buffalo herd, which can be seen along a 15-mile roadway, along with other forms of wildlife like deer, bobcats, and beavers.
Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve
Also located in northeastern Oklahoma, the Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve is set in Bartlesville. Established in 1926 by Phillips Petroleum Company found Frank Phillips, the 3,700-acre ranch started with only 90 buffalo – now boasting 125.
Be sure to also explore the Woolaroc Museum for all things Western art and Oklahoma heritage.
Pawnee Bill Ranch Historic Site & Museum
Set in central Oklahoma northeast of Oklahoma City, the Pawnee Bill Ranch Historic Site & Museum is found in the city of Pawnee near Stillwater and Cushing.
Established by Wild West Show star Pawnee Bill in 1910, the ranch yields historic mansions, a Pawnee Bill museum, and 500 acres of grounds. The expansive ranch features a blacksmith shop, log cabin, barn, and about 40 milling buffalo.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Found southwest of the OKC metropolitan area, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is located in Lawton – just southwest of Chickasha.
Covering nearly 60,00 acres, WMWR was established in 1901 – and is home to roughly 650 Plains Bison. Open daily and free of admission, the refuge also features a visitor center, bookstore, and gift shop.
Grey Snow Eagle House
Found northeast of OKC, the Grey Snow Eagle House of the Iowa Tribe – Bah Kho-je Xla Chi – is located in Perkins near Guthrie.
The scenic lands of the Grey Snow Eagle House is home to approximately 60 buffalo – which you may be able to spot from the road – as well as a number of birds both releasable and non-releasable. The aviary houses about 50 bald eagles and golden eagles.
Foss State Park
Spanning 1,749 acres, Foss State Park is located in the city of Foss in western Oklahoma – just west of Weatherford. Operated by the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department, Foss features about 40 buffalo.
For those looking to stretch their legs can try hiking, cycling, and horseback riding on the many trails in Foss State Park.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Set in southern Oklahoma in the Arbuckle Mountains, the 10,000-acre Chickasaw National Recreation Area is found in Sulphur near Madill, Thackerville, and Durant.
Established in 1902, this spot is Oklahoma oldest national park – and is now home to some returning buffalo herds. Visitors can see these majestic animals from the scenic viewpoint, or trek the two-mile Bison Pasture Trail.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Encompassing 60,000 acres, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is located northwest of Lawton in southern Oklahoma.
In 1901, the area was designated as a National Forest. By 1935, it was administered by the early Fish & Wildlife Service as a part of the national wildlife refuge program.
The refuge has protected many wildlife species including Rocky Mountain elk, American bison, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. River otter, prairie dog, Texas longhorns and burrowing owls also make their home in the refuge.
Partake in one of the guided tours to learn more about this incredible area. The Historical Sites Tour, In Search of Eagles, Wildflower Walk, and Wildlife Tour are great options.
Hiking, fishing, and hunting are also fun ways to spend time outdoors. While at the refuge, visit the Wichita Mountains Visitor Center to learn more about this magnificent area.