On the Town: VR brings a new level of fun to the Oklahoma City Zoo

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden has joined the virtual reality world with a new mountain gorilla experience that allows zoo visitors to see these animals up close in Rwanda.

Developed by Immotion, the Gorilla Trek Virtual Reality Experience at OKC Zoo features a virtual journey and live 360-degree action film, led by Tara Stoinski, Executive Director of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Viewers can see the endangered mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park in Africa.

The experience is located in the zoo’s Great Escape Building and is available on Thursdays from 10am to 3pm, although it is open from 9:30am to 4pm during spring break from March 11th to 19th. The cost is $8 per person plus zoo admission. Viewed via personal headsets, the seven-minute experience includes moving seats and immersive sound. Participants must be taller than 36 inches and able to wear a headset. The zoo also offers animal enrichment activities daily at 10:00 am and 1:00 pm during spring break.

You can see two troops of western lowland gorillas in person at the OKC Zoo. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is one of the zoo’s conservation partners, and zoo funding helps support its activities at the Karisoke Research Center.

To help these animals in other ways, you can donate unwanted cell phones and electronics to the zoo’s Eco-Cell Recycling Program. Coltan mining, a substance used in small electronic devices, is threatening gorillas and their habitat, so donating these phones is reducing the global market for new cell phones.

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Learn more at okczoo.org.

Spring Break Fun

Are you looking for something for your children when they do not go to school during spring break? Here are a few groups I know and are happy to welcome, with additional ideas I’ll include throughout the week:

· There are many play opportunities at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, including daily Spring Break activities from 10am-2pm March 13-17. Current exhibits include “Playing Cowboy” with western-style toys through May 7; and ArtToons, which focuses on western cartoons and comics. Visit nationalcowboymuseum.org for information on all of them.

· Until Spring Break, enjoy a scavenger hunt at the Arcadia Round Barn and learn about Oklahoma’s pioneering history. To enter, find 10 items in and near the historic Route 66 attraction. Hunting is free, but the Round Barn is asking for a $2 donation to help fund the upkeep of the 1898 barn. Children receive a prize bag for their efforts. There, explore the vintage exhibits and see the barn for yourself. The barn is located six miles east of Interstate 35 on Historic Route 66. For more information, visit arcadiaroundbarn.com.

RIVERSPORT OKC will be open daily for Biking, the Sky Trail Adventure Course, Sliding, Indoor Skiing, eSports, Flat Water Kayaking and Stand Up Paddling throughout Spring Break starting Saturday, March 11th. Visit riversportokc.org for more information.

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