Oklahoma's wildlife refuges, zoos and animal attractions are home to hundreds of species and offer unique experiences.
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From feeding a bison to watching over a million bats take to the sky, these Oklahoma animal adventures are ready to immerse you into a wildlife experience you won’t soon forget! When you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind wildlife encounter in Oklahoma, start with this selection of zoos, sanctuaries, refuges, farms, ranches, petting zoos and more.
Adventure awaits at the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden where wildlife and habitats from all over the world are represented on 120 acres. Feed giraffes and rhinos, go on a camel ride and splash into fun with a sea lion presentation. Go behind-the-scenes with a wild encounter where you can get up close with grizzly bears, bison, Asian elephants, Galapagos tortoises and more. The OKC Zoo is a wonderful destination for little ones who delight in the children’s zoo, carousel and lakeside playground.
The Tulsa Zoo is another family favorite where creatures great and small roam across 84 acres. Travel to the Lost Kingdom, home to ambassadors of some of Asia’s rarest and most elusive species like Malayan tigers, snow leopards, Komodo dragons and Asian elephants. The 2-acre African Plains recreates an African grassland complete with antelope, warthogs and white rhinos. Watch the world’s tallest animal at the giraffe experience viewing deck or head inside to the four-building complex to spot animals adapted to cold, desert, forest and water habitats.
For a really unusual treat, visit the Endangered Ark Foundation in Hugo where they care for the second largest elephant herd of Asian elephants in North America. Book a weekend tour to meet and greet with the elephants, or check their schedule for special events like the adorable Ele-Birthday Celebration - complete with cake - each August. Hugo is a unique town where several circuses winter, so it is a fitting location for this elephant haven.
Mowdy Ranch Mustangs in Colgate is one of just four Bureau of Land Management Public Off-Range Pastures for wild mustangs in the United States. And as Oklahoma’s only wild mustang eco-sanctuary dedicated to tourism, this unique attraction consists of 4,000 acres where 350 wild horses can live long-term. Take a UTV tour of the ranch, go on a guided horseback ride or make your trip even better with an overnight stay in the lodge.
There are several destinations across Oklahoma where you can get up-close with eagles. Feathered friends have a special place at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Eagle Aviary in Shawnee, Iowa Tribe's Grey Snow Eagle House in Perkins, and Sia: The Comanche Eagle & Raptor Center in Cyril.
Zoo Safari USA in Locust Grove focuses on smaller animals that are not typically seen at larger zoos. This animal rescue takes in all kinds of animals and gives them a permanent home. After being nursed back to health, they become animal ambassadors of their species. Learn about African servals, Capybara, cockatoos, emus, and a mix of amphibians and reptiles. As an added bonus, this one-of-a-kind animal attraction offers free guided tours each day.
Oklahoma is home to nine national wildlife refuges, which provide many opportunities to observe native wildlife on their own turf. Large or small, each refuge is unique and they all offer a fantastic atmosphere to take photos and observe nature.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, established in 1901, is one of the oldest refuges in the state. Located near Lawton in the southwestern part of the state, the refuge encompasses nearly 60,000 acres of mixed grass prairie and one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth. Visitors will find many species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and plants. But among the most popular residents are the prairie dogs and the free roaming bison herds.
The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge has long been a favorite destination for selenite crystal digging, but did you know it’s also an excellent spot for bird watching? Winter months are prime for eagle viewing, while spring and fall draw thousands of migrating waterfowl to the area. The refuge is also a habitat for the endangered whooping crane and white pelicans, both of which migrate through in the spring and fall.
While it’s not a national wildlife refuge, the Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area is unlike any other animal attraction in the state. Located between Freedom and Woodward in northwest Oklahoma, the Selman Bat Cave is only open on select nights in July. Pre-registration for the bat watch is required, and space is limited to just 75 visitors each night. Those lucky enough to get selected for a Selman Bat Watch are in for a treat! Group leaders will introduce visitors to the Mexican free-tailed bat and take visitors on an optional 1/4 mile nature walk. Then at dusk, hundreds of thousands of bats pour from the cave in a spectacular display as they search for insects.
Come get surrounded by bison in this breathtaking Old West experience by Old West Buffalo Company in Pawhuska. Listen to the triumphant comeback tale of the “Monarch of the Plains,” then hop aboard the tractor-pulled hay wagon and take a ride to the pasture. You’ll not only get to experience an up-close view of these magnificent creatures, but you can also feed them by hand. Afterward, the trip returns to the fictional Old West town of Buffalo City where you can walk along the boardwalk and pick up mementos of your trip.
Embark on a drive-thru safari at Arbuckle Wilderness in Davis. Spot diverse creatures from over five continents and feed them right from your vehicle! Keep a good hold on your cup of food, and you’ll be greeted by hungry camels, llamas, deer, buffalos, yaks and zebras that will eat right out of your hand.
Wildlife is not all on land – another great place to see animals is the Oklahoma Aquarium. Located in Jenks near the Arkansas River, the Oklahoma Aquarium provides a glimpse of exotic sea life. Boasting the largest aquarium in the four-state region, the Oklahoma Aquarium's one million gallons of water holds more than 4,000 sea creatures. Some of the amazing exhibits include a touch tank and an underwater viewing tunnel where the world's largest captive bull sharks swim all around you.
No trip to the charming cobblestone city of Medicine Park would be complete without a visit to the Medicine Park Aquarium & Nature Sciences Center. View over 90 native and non-native fish, as well as reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. Time your trip just right to catch the feeding schedule. Watch playful otters get feeding and enrichment, as well as electric eels, archerfish, paddlefish and even piranhas!
Oklahoma City’s first aquarium brings interactive aquarium exhibits to the public for exciting, hands-on learning experiences. At Blue Zoo, you can go diving with sharks, watch a pirate sword fight or a mermaid show, and witness a snake or stingray show. The indoor playground and touch tank are also big hits with little kids.
Standing about six feet tall at the shoulder and weighing in at about 2,000 pounds, the Clydesdale is one of the largest horse breeds in the world. Visit the Express Clydesdales Ranch in Yukon to see these gentle giants in person. They have appeared everywhere from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the royal stagecoach of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. When they’re not working, the horses love to socialize with visitors, and they each have their own distinct personality.
Combine your children’s love of water and animals with a trip to Safari Joe's H2O Water & Adventure Park in Tulsa. The water park portion offers fun favorites like a wave pool, slides and a lazy river, while the adventure side showcases exotic animals, like parrots, tortoises, emus, rabbits, snakes and lemur monkeys.
Oklahoma’s farms and ranches are a wonderful place to connect with friendly animals. From alpaca and goats to sheep and deer, farms offer a glimpse into the daily lives of these unique creatures. Some farms specialize in one type of animal, while others offer a wide range of exotic creatures.
Fuzzy guinea pigs, baby ducks and friendly goats await your next visit at an Oklahoma petting zoo! These kid-friendly destination offers a revolving door of animals from donkeys and hedgehogs to parrots and even tadpoles.