OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Zoo got a head start on Earth Day by throwing a Party for the Planet.
"When you fall in love with this stuff, you will protect it," said Lisa Loos, of Edmond.
That’s exactly what zoo officials are going for as they throw 'Party for the Planet,' with activities for all ages, information stations and an interactive scavenger safari in an effort to protect the planet.
One of the most hands-on activities included patrons being able to get their hands dirty, literally, by planting Oklahoma plants in the zoo flower beds.
"This garden is to attract all of our native pollinators, including Monarch butterflies. So all of our native pollinators, their numbers are declining, so we are trying to create habitat for them," said Dr. Rebecca Snyder of the OKC Zoo.
The garden is part of the zoo’s ongoing effort to educate about the demise of Monarch butterflies. But Snyder says bees, wasps, flies, beetles and hummingbirds are also becoming scarce. They are vital to plant regeneration.
To make sure these plants grow, the zoo is using some of their own homemade fertilizer.
"We take all of the herbivore waste and all of the clippings from the zoo area and compost it for them, then bring it back for them to use in their potting soils and also in all their flower beds," said Jason Huffaker of Minick Materials.
That’s right - the elephants, rhinos and hippos are not only cute, but they are helping the flowers grow.
"Helping reduce the need for water, keep the ground cooler so the plants grow better. Reduce the need for fertilizer, create a better ecosystem in the soil for them so that they don’t have to use pesticides," said Huffaker.
The lessons in eco-education are a big hit with friends of the zoo.
"We have five acres in Edmond. We have been pesticide-free, Roundup-free, herbicide-free for 20 years. So, we come to get ideas for our butterfly gardens and try to encourage other people," said Loos.
"Activities such as planting this, planting the flowers and planting the seeds over there. It’s a really good way to get people educated," said Katrina Nutter, Friend of the Zoo.
Click here for more information on the Conservation and the Zoo Poo program.