St. John Donation Makes New Nursing, Quiet Space Possible at Tulsa Zoo

TULSA, Okla. (March 8, 2017) – Thanks to a generous donation from St. John Health System, a part of Ascension, the nation's largest Catholic and nonprofit health system, the Tulsa Zoo has opened the St. John Family Den to provide a quiet space for nursing mothers, families and zoo guests.

The 900-square-foot facility, which is the newly renovated former Amazon Outpost gift shop, will feature a dedicated space for nursing mothers, a quiet room for families affected by autism or sensory processing disorders, a family restroom, as well as a restroom with an adult changing table. The space was developed with input from St. John, Autism Center of Tulsa, members of La Leche League of Tulsa, and parents. Architect for the project was Fritz Baily, and general contractor was Buckeye Construction.

“The average zoo visit is about three hours, and is time we want all families to set aside to unplug, relax and learn about the natural world. Our hope is the new St. John Family Den will improve the experience for guests who might otherwise have to cut short their visit,” says Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc., President and CEO Terrie Correll. “TZMI is grateful to St. John for making this important family asset possible.”

“St. John Health System is honored to provide the St. John Family Den to further enrich the quality zoo experience for families and those with special needs,” says St. John Medical Center President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Nowlin.  “We are proud to partner with the Tulsa Zoo to further fulfill the St. John mission, which calls us to serve all persons, with special attention to the vulnerable, and to improve the health of individuals and our communities.”

The zoo and St. John celebrated the Family Den’s grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 8.

The St. John Family Den is open daily during regular zoo hours.


About St. John Health System

Ascension’s St. John Health System operates seven hospitals and more than 90 healthcare clinics and facilities in eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. St. John Health System employs approximately 8,000 associates. Across the region, St. John Health System provided more than $68 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2016. Serving Oklahoma for more than 90 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. 

About the Tulsa Zoo

Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the Tulsa Zoo seeks to inspire passion for wildlife in every guest, every day. Open 363 days a year, the Tulsa Zoo hosts more than 622,000 guests each year, making it the largest attraction in the Green Country region.  The Tulsa Zoo is owned by the City of Tulsa and managed by Tulsa Zoo Management, Inc. (TZMI).  TZMI is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  In 2017, the Tulsa Zoo celebrates 89 years of providing family friendly recreation, natural sciences education and conservation of wildlife.

The Tulsa Zoo is in an exciting phase of development with the launch of a 20-year Master Plan for zoo exhibits and the most aggressive capital campaign in the zoo’s history.  The Master Plan and information about the current capital campaign, Building Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, can be found at  For more information about the Tulsa Zoo, visit or call (918) 669-6600.

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