For the University of Pittsburgh basketball cheering section with the same name, see Oakland Zoo (cheering section)

Oakland Zoo, in the past known as the Knowland Zoo, is a zoo located in southeastern Oakland, California, United States. Oakland Zoo is relatively small for a city of its size, but it contains modern exhibits. Many of its animals are kept in relatively "natural" habitats, and expanded natural habitats are planned. The newly completed Valley Children's Zoo is a good example of where the zoo is headed, 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 1958-1965 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 that time. 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 Savanna, with giraffes, 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 following 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.

The Valley Children’s Zoo

Summer 2005 the three-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. 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.

The Playground

Just outside of 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 climber which is hard to tell if it is a giraffe or a camel.

The Zoo Today

Today the zoo is home to over 440 native and exotic animals and is a member of the AZA. The following animals are on exhibit to the public:


Baboon, Hamadryas

Sun Bear



Bull, Scottish Highland (retired)

Camel, Arabian


Deer, Sika*



Elk, Tule*

Flying Fox, Island

Flying Fox, Malayan


Gibbon, White Handed


Goat, Pygmy

Goat, Alpine

Goat, La Mancha

Goat, Nubian


Lemur, Ring-tailed



Monkey, Squirrel


Otter, River

Pig, Asian Miniature Potbelly

Rabbit, Old World




Cotton-topped Tamarin

Vervet (Green Monkey)




Bishop, Orange

Corella, Long-Billed

Crane, African Crowned

Crane, Lilford

Crow, Pied

Dove, Tambourine

Duck, White-faced Whistling

Egret, Cattle

Fishers Lovebird


Goose, Egyptian

Guinea Fowl, Helmeted


Hornbill, Wreathed

Hornbill, Red-Billed

Hottentot, Teal

Ibis, Hadada

Ibis, Sacred


Lapwing Plover

Lilac-Breasted Roller

Macaw, Blue & Yellow

Parrot, Princess

Pigeon, Speckled

Roller, Blue-Bellied

African Spoonbill

Toucan, Chestnut Mandibled

Vulture, Griffon

Weaver, Taveta Golden

Reptiles and Amphibians

Anaconda, Yellow

Alligator, American

Boa, Emerald Tree

Boa, Columbian Red-Tailed Boa

Chameleon, Nosy Be

Frog, Panamanian Golden

Frog, Golden Mantella

Gecko, Giant Leaf-Tailed

Lizard, African Plated

Lizard, Black Tree Monitor

Lizard, Common Chuckwalla

Lizard, Desert Grassland Whiptail

Lizard, Gila Monster

Lizard, Great Plated

Lizard, White-throated Monitor

Snake, Brown House

Snake, Taiwan Beauty

Tortoise, Aldabra

Tortoise, Spurred

Turtle, Florida Red-Bellied

Turtle, Spotted


Ants, Honey Pot

Ants, Leaf-Cutter

Beetle, Dermestid

Cockroach, Madagascar-Hissing

Lubber, Florida Eastern

Millipede, African Giant

Scorpion, Desert Hairy

Spider, Black Widow

Spider, Golden Silk

Tarantula, Chilean Rose

Vinegaroon, Giant

Walking Stick, Indian

Walking Stick, Giant Thorny

  • The (*) indicates animals only viewable on sky-ride


External links

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