OKC Zoo getting new animal hospital

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- A $9 million change is coming to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

It's a unique, new exhibit, giving you a glimpse inside the exam room as the animals undergo everything from routine health care to surgery.

The new Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital is an effort to give the animals the best care possible.

The current animal hospital at the zoo is basically two main rooms and a lobby where most of the zoo's animals are treated.

Years ago the lion cubs born at the zoo were delivered there.

Zoo veterinarian Jennifer D'Agostino said, "When you get a 350 pound lion on the table plus all the nurses and doctors, there was basically no room to maneuver in here."

It's a space so tight most of the large animals can't fit and have to be treated in their living spaces.

Space is just part of the reason why the Oklahoma Zoological Society has launched the "Commitment to Care Campaign."

They want to make sure the animals get the best care possible in the space necessary.

Dana McCrory, with the Oklahoma Zoological Society, said, "This campaign will truly elevate the standard of care we give our animals here at the Oklahoma City Zoo."

The new Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital will not only benefit the animals and their veterinarians but also zoo visitors.

Zoo Executive Director Dwight Scott said, "We're going to allow guests to come in and look in at procedures going on with animals whether it's in the treatment room or surgery room."

Guests can watch the veterinarians work through the glass; it's expected to be a unique educational experience.

D'Agostino said, "I think it's going to be a really neat experience for the visitor."

The new facility is expected to be completed in about two years in an area across from the American Bison facility.

The animals currently living in the area will be moved.

Half of the funding for the new animal hospital comes from a sales tax that already benefits the zoo; the other half will come from private donations.

While some of that money is already raised, they are in need of more donations.

If you would like to help, click here for more information and how to donate.