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Oklahoma City Zoo asking for your help to save pollinators as they drastically decline

OKLAHOMA CITY - You may not have noticed this, but the number of pollinating insects in wildlife is on an extreme decline.

The monarch butterfly has seen a population decrease of 80-percent in the last two decades.

The Oklahoma City Zoo is working to save these vital species but they need your help.

The newest pollinator garden at the Oklahoma City Zoo was planted by volunteers and staff who got an up-close look at why it's so important.

"The really magical thing that happened was as we were planting the garden, we had a monarch come by and she was laying eggs on the milkweed plants even before we had planted some of them," said Rebecca Snyder, Oklahoma City Zoo curator of conservation and science.

More than 600 guests contributed to the new garden back in April.

Now just a few months later, it boasts more than 675 nectar-producing flowers as well as milkweed, which is the host plant for monarch butterflies.

The monarchs are one group the zoo is desperately trying to help save. In fact, Snyder says all pollinators in Oklahoma are on a drastic decline, which has a bigger impact than you may think.

"They are responsible for production of about one-third of the food crops that we eat," Snyder said.

The Oklahoma City Zoo is placing these pollinator plants everywhere they can on their property.

They've even joined a nationwide contest through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums by submitting a video of guests helping plant these habitats. They made the top ten and if they win, they'll get a $25,000 prize.

All of the proceeds will go to "Okies for Monarchs" - a statewide organization made up of 40 groups including the zoo.

"We have a conservation plan for monarchs and other pollinators and that's really just trying to raise education awareness and motivate people to create habitat for our monarchs and our other pollinators," Snyder said.

Whether you vote or plant a habitat at home, Snyder says your impact will reach farther than just the new wildlife you're helping.

"The services that they provide for our food crop industry alone is in the billions of dollars so it definitely behooves all of us to pay attention to pollinators and every one of us can do something very simple," said Snyder.

You can vote here now through July 31, 2019.

Whichever zoo gets the second-most votes will receive a $10,000 prize.

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