- Open Daily: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday, Sunday, Select Holidays: 10:00am – 4:00pm
- Address: 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605
In accordance with Alameda County’s order for residents to ‘shelter in place’ for the well-being of public and staff related to COVID-19 precautionary measures, Oakland Zoo will be closed Tuesday, March 17 and remain closed until the order is lifted.
Oakland Zoo Closed — Effective Tuesday, March 17
We need your support more now than ever to care for the animals you know and love. Please help sustain Oakland Zoo – your Zoo – during this difficult time.
Oakland Accepts Zoo
Henry A. Snow, a naturalist, collector, and African big game hunter, established the Oakland Zoo in downtown Oakland. The first Zoo was located at 19th and Harrison. The area is now known as Snow Park.
In February of 1923, the city of Oakland accepted Snow’s collection of wild animals. The collection was valued from $30,000 to $80,000.
“On behalf of the city of Oakland, we are delighted to accept this valuable collection.”Oakland Tribune Feb 1923
Two lion cubs and a boa-constrictor formed the nucleus, with various monkeys, bobcats, a cinnamon bear, a mountain lion, and a badger completed the menagerie.
After many complaints were filed with the city council and the park board from the neighborhood residents around the Zoo, who said the collection of animals were a nuisance.
The new location was in Sequoia Mountain Park (now a part of Joaquin Miller Park.)
In 1926 Henry Snow had a stroke and died in July of 1927. Snow’s son Sidney Snow continued in father’s footsteps.
In 1936, Snow established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was incorporated as the Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society.
The new Society was seeking to move the animals to the 500-acre Durant Park.
In 1939 the Zoo moved from Joaquin Miller Park to Durant Park.
Knowland State Arboretum and Park and Zoo
Visitors enter the Oakland Zoo in Knowland Park through the landscape of the Historical Park and Arboretum. The trees throughout this area are the remnants of the Frederick Talbot estate (see Edenvale.)
A row of Canary Island Palm marks the park entry. There are Mexican Fan Palms, Chilean Palms, and exotic Bunya Bunya Trees from Australia in the meadow and picnic grounds. These trees were all planted early part of the 1900s.
Knowland Park consists of approximately 443 acres, of which 350 acres are in the undeveloped Upper Knowland Park. The Zoo (in 1996) had 56 acres within the Historical Park, and 37 acres are in the Zoological Park.
Under a contract with the City of Oakland, the East Bay Zoological Society (EBZS) has full responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and development of the 37-acre Zoo and the 443 acres of Knowland Park.
The first significant addition was the construction enclosure for Miss Effie, the elephant, at the cost of $15,000. The move from the lower park to the upper area began. Video of Miss Effie in 1965 can be seen here: website
There was a 60-foot cylindrical gibbon tower at the entrance to the Zoo. The baby zoo was located in the lower area of the new Zoo.
“The Zoo, when completed, will be the most modern and beautiful one in the country.”Oakland Tribune 1960
By 1967 the Zoo had relocated entirely to a canyon rising to a mountain overlooking the entire East Bay Area.
The Skyline Daylight a miniature train complete with a “Vista Dome” coach.
The Baby Zoo was completed in 1965 and totally rebuilt in 2005.
When completed, the Zoo would be 100 acres.
Sidney Snow Dies
People Came to See
Zoo Under Fire
In 1983 the Zoo was listed as number six of the “The 10 ‘worst’ zoos.’
The Humane Society of the United States said the conditions at the Zoo were so adverse that the elephants might be better off “serving five to ten years in Leavenworth.”
The Zoo was “a random collection of animals maintained in amateurish fashion and failed to meet even one criterion of an acceptable zoological garden.
They called the Zoo “concrete oasis.”
The report noted that there were no signs of cruelty to the animals, and they were generally healthy.
The Zoo’s response was, “it will be a first-class zoo in a few years.”
Since 1988, Oakland Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.
New and Improved Zoo
In his tenure, Dr. Parrott has turned the Zoo entirely around, making it one of the best in the country.
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 Zoo Today
In the summer of 2005 the 3-acre 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.
June 20, 2018 – Almost three years since breaking ground and more than two decades in the making, Oakland Zoo’s highly anticipated California Trail opens. The expansion more than doubles the Zoo’s current size from 45 acres to 100 acres.
The California Trail also includes the interactive California Conservation Habitarium, Conservation Action Tent, California Wilds! Playground based on California’s diverse eco-zones, and Clorox Overnight Experience ‘safari-style’ campground.
Timeline of the Zoo
- 1936– Snow established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was incorporated as the Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society.
- 1939-moved from Joaquin Miller Park to Durant Park.
- 1948 – Became a State Park
- 1949: State Park property is leased to the City of Oakland for 50 years, and the City of Oakland subleased the zoo property to the East Bay Zoological Society.
- 1950: -The zoo property changed its name Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park.
- 1964 –City Parks Dept and Society run zoo
- 1965 – The baby Zoo opened
- 1975 Knowland State Park was conveyed to the City of Oakland.
- 1982 –East Bay Zoological Society took over the maintenance, operation, and development of the city-run Zoo. The 10-year lease agreement saved the city almost $315,880 a year. The Society signed a ten-year contract.
- 1985 – Joel Parrott was appointed the Executive Director. A 20-year renovation plan was put in place,
- 1994- Renews 10-year lease.
Timeline of Major Developments
- Hamadryas Baboon Exhibit 1982
- Chimpanzee Exhibit – 1988
- African Elephant Exhibit – 1989
- African Lion Exhibit – 1992
- Siamang Island Exhibit – 1993
- Malayan Sun Bear Exhibit – 1996
- African Savanna – 1998
- Maddie’s Center – 1999
- Warthog Exhibit -2000
- Mahali Pa Tembo – Elephant Exhibit 2004
- Wayne & Gladys Valley Children Zoo Opened 2005
- Baboon Cliffs – 2009
- Wild Australia – 20110
- Veterinary Hospital – 2012
The East Bay Zoological Society has operated and managed the Zoo for the City of Oakland from 1982 until August 2017, when it was renamed the Conservation Society of California to reflect better Zoo’s evolving purpose mission in its commitment to conservation.
- Open Daily: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday, Sunday, Select Holidays: 10:00am – 4:00pmMore
- Address: 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605
- Oakland Zoo – website
- Oakland Zoo – Facebook
- Oakland Zoo – A History – Alive
- Hearts replaced by Sawdust – Erika Mailman
- Oakland Zoo – Oakland Local Wiki
- Miss Effie – Oakland Local WIki
- Oakland Accepts Zoo – Oakland Tribune February 09. 1923
- Additions to Zoo Made – Oakland Tribune September 30, 1923
- Poison Plot at Oakland Zoo – SF Examiner August 29, 1924
- Zoo Moves to Sequoia Park – Oakland Tribune March 09, 1925
- Park Board Wants Money to Park – Oakland Tribune November 24, 1925
- Henry Snow has Stroke – SF Examiner October 05, 1926
- Snow’s Work to be Carried – Oakland Tribune July 29, 1927
- A shipload of Animals for Zoo – Oakland Tribune January 05, 1928
- City Divided on Plan for Zoo – Oakland Tribune December 01, 1932
- Snow Offers to Take Over Zoo – Oakland Tribune May 14, 1934
- Plan for Park and Zoo – Oakland Tribune March 27, 1935
- Zoo Society Incorporates – Oakland Tribune April 22, 1936
- New Zoo Plan – Oakland Tribune March 17, 1939
- Contract Extended – Oakland Tribune July 14, 1948
- New Park to Be Dedicated – Oakland Tribune May 16, 1950
- Doth Music Soothe the Savage Beast Pg 1 – Oakland Tribune March 27, 1955
- Doth Music Soothe the Savage Beast Pg 2- Oakland Tribune March 27, 1955
- Oakland’s New Zoo – Oakland Tribune June 03, 1959
- Campaign to Enlarge Zoo Begins – Oakland Tribune July 10, 1960
- Wildlife to Roam Free Oakland Tribune May 26, 1962
- New Zoo Project Starts – Oakland Tribune January 19, 1961
- Oakland’s Zoo Looks to the Future – Oakland Tribune April 12, 1964
- Baby Animal Zoo – Oakland Tribune December 08, 1965
- Shy Kangaroo Skips Oakland Zoo – Oakland Tribune March 20, 1967
- Oakland Zoo has Expanded – Long Beach Independent May 21, 1967
- Vandals Hit Zoo in Oakland – SF Examiner June 17, 1968
- Plan to Let Private Group Run Zoo – SF Examiner June 08, 1982
- Humane Society Slams Oakland Zoo – SF Examiner July 31, 1983
- Oakland Zoo Under Fire – SF Examiner July 31, 1983
- Hello, Dr. Parrott – SF Examiner August 29, 1984
- Elephants: 6 Acres to Roam Around – Sacramento Bee April 10, 2005
- Elephants Oakland Zoo – Sacramento Bee April 10, 2005
- Expansion Planned – SF Examiner March 10, 2008
Please note this not a complete history of the Oakland Zoo. Please let me know about any errors or additions. Thanks