Haunt the Zoo, now in its 30th year, has become a tradition for many families in central Oklahoma.
The event began as a small-scale night of Halloween fun in 1983. Today it has corporate sponsors, large displays and plenty of goodies for those who visit beginning Saturday.
“It started out as this small, kind of scary thing and then it started evolving from a grassroots event to something involving more departments here at the zoo,” spokeswoman Tara Henson said. “It's become something we spend months getting ready, but it's also a lot of fun for us to put on.”
About 900 volunteers will help out over the course of the six-day run, and 500,000 items will be handed out, ranging from bottled soft drinks to candy. Visitors will find a new sign at the entrance and can visit 21 booths.
Gates open each night at 6:30, even if it's raining, Henson said.
Tickets are $6 in advance and $7 at the door. The price includes a fabric trick-or-treat bag. Kids of all ages can trick or treat along a trail lined with pumpkins.
“It's a unique and safe environment to trick-or-treat,” Henson said. “Even though visitors won't likely see the animals, the lions have been known to roar and we sometimes hear the sea lions barking.”
Haunt the Zoo also adheres to the zoo's conservation mission. Products without palm oil are selected to hand out and the trick or treat bags are fabric. Palm oil deforestation is responsible for orangutan and tiger habitat loss worldwide.
An exhibit celebrating 30 years of Haunt the Zoo is on display at the ZooZeum. That exhibit is open during the zoo's regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours.
For more information on Haunt the Zoo go to www.okczoo.com.