The Zoo continues to promote its habitats and its wonderful collection of animals. While true, that some of the facilities appear to be forty years old, some of the compounds are new and meant to mimic the natural habitat as closely as possible. Viewing of most animals is close-up, and sometimes (as is the case with the cheetahs) you are divided from the animals by nothing more than a deepening pool of water. Photography is allowed and encouraged, and the zoo's habitats generally permit a personalized viewing of several great and endangered species.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is not particularly unique as zoos go, but it is very nice. They have a good variety of animals both from North America and from around the world. The layout allows one to see most of the cages without too much backtracking. There is plenty of open space, and it is a nice place to take a walk.
When I was there, they had converted all of their primate cages from the traditional 'box with bars' style to a more natural setting. In some ways, these settings can make it harder to see the animals at close distance and therefore defeat the purpose of going to a zoo. In other ways, these settings look much better and appear more comfortable for the animals. The viewing areas included a glass-walled area where one could be very close to the animals if they chose to be there. I remember one orangutan that sat by the window looking at the people. One of the visitors was carrying a paper bag with handles, and the orangutan kept pointing to the bag. The lady opened the bag, and the orangutan watched with interest as she showed him the stuff that she had inside.
They had plans to convert the big cat cages and the bear cages to similar styles in the mid-90's. I'm sure that they are all finished by now.
The Oklahoma City Zoo is very nice. We had the best time there one day in February a few years ago. Though it was February it was unusually warm and the animals were very active. Not many people were at the zoo because it is usually much colder that time of year. There was not a dolphin show that day because I don't think there were more than 12 people in the entire zoo. They announced that the dolphins would have training at 1:00pm and we were welcome to watch for free. There were so few of us there that the dolphin trainer invited every one of us up on to the platform with her to see the training from best seats in the house. At the end of the dolphins work out the trainer had one of the dolphins jump up on to a piece of wet plastic lying on the stage. Every one was allowed to pet the dolphin. I can't promise this will happen for you but take a chance and visit the zoo one day in February if the weather is mild.
In the past decade the Oklahoma City Zoo has done a lot to renovate and improve the habitats for the animals and the visitors.