Oakland Zoo commemorates its 100th anniversary
Some of the zoo's noteworthy accomplishments are celebrated amid this milestone including its expansion, crucial role in animal welfare, and beyond.
The Oakland Zoo in California proudly achieved its centennial year on January 1, 2022. From June 6, 1922, the zoo has transformed from a single building in Snow Park near downtown Oakland to Joaquin Miller Park in 1926, to the current location in the Knowland Park hills in 1939.
Today, the 100-acre Oakland Zoo attracts nearly 900,000 guests annually and is among the 4 largest zoos in California, according to an organizational release.
A trailblazer in animal welfare throughout the years, the Oakland Zoo partners with animal rights organizations including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and some techniques it has developed (eg, ‘protected contact’ management for elephants) are now practiced by zoos internationally.
Additionally, the zoo is a leader in animal rescue by offering animal care, rehabilitation, and sanctuary for animals rescued from human-wildlife conflict, the exotic pet trade, or natural disasters. It also offers youth education and collaborates with over 25 conservation organizations internationally.
“It’s with enormous pride to serve as CEO during this incredible milestone. There has been so much accomplished over these many years in making the Zoo what it is today, and I’m honored to lead Oakland Zoo into the next 100 years,” said Nik Dehejia, CEO of Oakland Zoo, Conservation Society of California, in the release.
“So much has evolved in the past century in the world–and in the role of zoos and their purpose–Oakland Zoo is fully committed to doing our part and leading the next generation of conservationists to blaze the trail ahead,” he added.
From 1922 to 1950, Oakland Zoo was founded by and under the management of naturalists Henry A. Snow and his son, Sidney Snow. The zoo is now managed by the Conservation Society of California and is no longer privately owned. However, the Snow family legacy remains through the founders' relative, Nancy Clark, who serves as co-chair of the board of trustees at Oakland Zoo, Conservation Society of California.
“As great-granddaughter and granddaughter of the Zoo's founders, Henry and Sidney Snow, and as current co-chair of the Board of Trustees, I am thrilled both personally and professionally at how much the Oakland Zoo has accomplished and grown these 100 years," remarked Clark.
"Our family is certain that Henry and Sidney would be beyond proud at what the Oakland Zoo has become,” she added.
In recent decades, the zoo’s facilities, programs, and public reputation have evolved. Practically bankrupt and branded by media and the Humane Society as 1 of the 10 worst zoos in the US in 1984, Joel Parrott, DVM, began his tenure as CEO and president that same year and began shifting the narrative. Substantial updates were made to improve animal care and welfare, habitats and infrastructure, and conservation work and education programs were developed.
Accompanying these successes, the Oakland Zoo also achieved accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1988. According to the release, through Parrott’s innovation, the zoo expanded from 25 acres to 100 acres, 15 employees to 240, and became the zoo it is today.
Over the next 100 years, the zoo will further excel in animal welfare, rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife, and conserving threatened species. In addition, education programs will continuously grow and encourage the youth.
The zoo is celebrating with its guests during 2022 by hosting events you can check out here. It also encourages the community to share their Oakland Zoo memories throughout the year by tagging them on social media using #OZ100.
Oakland Zoo celebrates 100th anniversary milestone this year. News release. Conservation Society of California. January 12, 2022. Accessed January 12, 2022.