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Oklahoma City Zoo's new handheld GPS devices offer a fact-filled, multimedia tour



The only thing that could make the Oklahoma City Zoo's well-designed layout and eye-catching exhibits even better would be a completely personalized tour guide. In a perfect world, this guide would take guests behind the scenes with expert knowledge at each exhibit, teach more about how the zoo works and fit in one's pocket.

Enter the Zoo Ranger, a handheld, Global Positioning System-enabled wonder of modern technology, roughly the size of Sony's PlayStation Portable game system. The device can provide daily zoo updates, as well as text, audio, streaming video, photos and trivia, all automatically triggered when a patron takes the device to a certain location at the zoo.

BarZ Adventures, an Austin, Texas-based computer delivery systems company, introduced the line of education-oriented GPS devices in late 2006. The minicomputers feature a 3.5-inch, touch-sensitive LCD screen, four gigabytes of storage and an integrated GPS complete with 27 video hot spots " all powered with Windows CE technology. And the Oklahoma City Zoo is the third in the nation to offer the snazzy guide, making one of the state's biggest attractions even better.

 "People will always like the paper maps as a souvenir, but this will give you much more information and really enrich your experience here at the zoo," Mary Wagner, a public relations technician at the Oklahoma City Zoo, said. "We're really excited to work with BarZ to introduce Zoo Ranger, and we hope that it's just another thing we can bring to our guests to make their experience better as we improve."

With 50 units available, visitors shouldn't have a problem giving one of the devices a spin. Attendees can rent a guide for $9.95 for a three-and-a-half-hour session at the stroller rental window at the main entrance. "Jake Dalton

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