How The Tulsa Zoo Cares For Plants From All Over The World

The Tulsa Zoo has animals from all over the world. But they also have plants, and some that don't typically grow in Oklahoma. News On 6's Alyssa Miller was live to show us how the team cares for those plants.

Wednesday, January 24th 2024, 5:06 pm


The Tulsa Zoo is taking care of more than just its animals, there is also a whole team dedicated to the plants.

Andy Waltke is the Curator of Horticulture for the zoo's 84 acres.

"We mow the areas inside the exhibits, we plan all the plantings, we care for all of the grounds as well as provide plants for the animals," he said.

Some plants match the animal's natural habitat and others are used as nutrition.

"We do grow food," Waltke continued saying, "We grow wheatgrass and are growing more what we like to call functional botany, growing things and choosing things that the animals can feed upon."

Behind the scenes is the greenhouse where the horticulture team can store desert plants and tropical plants to protect them from the Oklahoma weather. It is also where they stratify the seeds.

"We do that by taking the seeds, we will wet coffee filters, wrap them up in coffee filters, label those, and put those in Ziploc bags in a refrigerator for 90, 60, 30, or 14 days," Waltke said.

He adds certain plants need a longer cold period to grow and Oklahoma does not provide that every winter. This method allows the zoo to grow any plant it wants to keep everything looking great and the animals happy.

"I like to give the example of there is no elephant without the plants below it," said Waltke. "There is a lot of lessons in recognizing that and our team works incredibly hard at all that we do."

The Tulsa Zoo will have a plant sale the first weekend in May, its first since 2019. More information will be shared closer to that date.


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