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Oklahoma City Zoo Friends launches fund campaign for a new animal hospital

Zoo Friends has embarked on a campaign to raise $4.5 million to help fund construction of a $9 million animal hospital at the Oklahoma City Zoo.
by Matt Patterson Modified: June 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm •  Published: June 23, 2012

Veterinarian Gretchen Cole and the rest of the staff at the Oklahoma City Zoo's veterinary clinic are accustomed to making do.

In the clinic's lab, slides are laid out while employees manage a choreography that keeps them from getting in each other's way. In another area of the building, an old storage room has been converted to an office with boxes stacked in what used to be a shower. The facility's commissary, where meals are prepared for animals, is next to the necropsy room where autopsies are performed.

None of this is ideal, and that's why Zoo Friends is embarking on its Commitment to Care campaign, which aims to raise $4.5 million for construction of the $9 million Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital, a 22,000-square-foot facility. The building would more than double the space available to care for sick and injured animals while providing enrichment opportunities for visitors.

“That's not ideal for that kind of mixing of food and raw meat,” Cole said. “There are a couple of design issues like that we've had to work around and adapt to. With this facility, it'll be a design that fits what we need now.”

Half of the $9 million will come from sales tax collections dedicated to the zoo, while the other half will come from contributions.

Officials think construction of a new clinic is one of the most important issues facing the zoo today. The current clinic was built 32 years ago.

“At the time it was built it was adequate and met our needs, but as animal care has evolved, it no longer does that,” zoo director Dwight Scott said. “There is limited space, and some of the equipment has become antiquated.”

Higher standard

Plans are to break ground on the clinic next year and for it to be completed by 2014. When it is finished, it will offer visitors a chance to see what happens inside through an interactive pavilion where they can watch procedures done on animals or workers preparing food for them.

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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