|Location||Oakland, California, United States|
|Land area||100 acres (40 ha)|
|No. of animals||660+ |
|Public transit access||AC Transit: 46|
Oakland Zoo, in the past known as the Knowland Zoo, is a 100-acre (40 ha) zoo located in southeastern Oakland, California, United States. Most of its animals are kept in relatively "natural" habitats, and expanded natural habitats are planned. The Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo which opened in 2005 is a good example of the zoo's plans for the future, with interactive exhibits, state of the art animal housing facilities and children's play areas. The zoo is nationally known for its excellent elephant exhibit and has been praised for allowing their elephants to roam freely.
The beginning of the zoo
Naturalist Henry A. Snow established the Oakland Zoo in 1922 on 19th St and Harrison St in downtown Oakland. Snow Park now occupies the site of the zoo's first home. Over the years the zoo relocated several times: to Sequoia Park, Joaquin Miller Park and finally in 1939 to Durant Park. Under Joseph R. Knowland, Chairman of the California State Park Commission, California purchased the land and in 1950 renamed the park to Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park. The East Bay Zoological Society (EBZS), founded in 1936 by Henry Snow's son, Sidney, has had a long relationship with the Oakland Zoo. At the time of its founding, EBZS was known as the Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society.
Growing a zoo
Although EBZS has always been involved with zoo projects and operations to some extent, it was not until after major development of the zoo from 1958 to 1965 that the EBZS's role increased dramatically. Through their efforts, money was raised to develop the African Veldt (1965), the Australian Outback (1975) and the original tiger exhibit (1980). In 1977, the EBZS purchased the food, rides and Children's Zoo concessions.
In 1982 the EBZS entered into an agreement with the City of Oakland to manage the zoo and develop it under non-profit status. The zoo has flourished since then. In 1985, Joel Parrott, DVM, was hired as Executive Director of the Oakland Zoo. Many new exhibits have been created, including those for the hamadryas baboons and the chimpanzees. A new, spacious elephant exhibit was built in 1987. The current sun bear exhibit was finished in 1995 and was featured on Animal Planet “Ultimate Zoos.” The white-handed gibbons now live on a lush island in the heart of the Rainforest. The African Savannah, with camels, lions, elephants, meerkats, hyenas and more, was completed in 1998.
The Education Center opened its new doors in 1999 with the new main entrance followed soon after in summer 2001 (see picture). In autumn of 2001, a new squirrel monkey exhibit opened along with a larger, newly renovated tiger exhibit. In the spring of 2007, the four dromedary camels were moved to a larger, fenced enclosure uphill from their old enclosure.
In 2012 Oakland Zoo celebrated the grand opening of its 17,000 square foot, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital, the largest wild animal veterinary facility in Northern California.
California Trail represents $70 million out of an $81 million multi-phase Zoo development. In 2012, a fully funded LEED-certified Veterinary Hospital opened, followed by the opening in 2013 of the Oakland Zoo Biodiversity Center, and the 2014 inauguration of the Condor Recovery Center at Oakland Zoo. Each of these projects has improved care of the Zoo’s animals as well as conservation of the species in the wild.
California Trail is the only part of this initiative open to the public. Guests will travel to the Trail via an aerial gondola from the existing zoo. Along the trail, they will encounter various animals, such as American bison. A half-acre California Kids’ Zone will introduce young children and their families to California wildlife and habitats through themed play structures. Inside an interpretive center with a wall-length window into the grizzly habitat, visitors will explore California’s diverse habitats, step into the shoes of conservation researchers, and find their place as a member of a community of people taking action for California’s wildlife.
The gondola, visitor's center and restaurant are slated to open summer 2017. The rest of California Trail is slated to open summer 2018.
The Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo
Summer 2005 the 3-acre (12,000 m2) Valley Children's Zoo opened with spacious new animal exhibits along with plenty of interactive play-structures for children. The ring-tailed lemurs, century old Aldabra tortoises, the interactive Goat and Sheep Contact Yard along with the river otters can be found in the Children’s Zoo. The popular American alligators, the bats, the pot-bellied pigs, the Old-World rabbits along with the Bug Room, and the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room are also in the Children’s Zoo. One of the most interesting and popular features with the smaller children are the brass insects embedded in the concrete walkways, which were installed as a form of public art.
Teen Wild Guides
Every weekend, teen volunteers, also known as TWGs (pronounced "twigs"), come to the Children's Zoo to tell the public about the animals depending on which station they are at; Bats, Goat Barn, Gators, Bugs, Rad Room, Otters, Lemurs, and occasionally Face Painting in the Children's Zoo, or working at the Sun Bear or Chimp stations. The age range is 12½–19 years.
Just outside the zoo, there is a small playground with four structures: an elephant slide, a crawl-through hippo tunnel, a turtle that children can climb on, and a camel which children can climb on.
Today the zoo is home to over 660 native and exotic animals and is a member of the AZA. The following animals are on exhibit to the public:
- The (*) indicates animals only viewable on sky-ride
- The (**) indicates animals only viewable on train.
- "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- 46 Schedule
- Oakland Zoo History
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