Oakland Zoo Opens 56-acre California Trail Expansion

Eight California native species now home in the all-new upcoming California Trail including Grizzly / Brown bears, Gray wolves and California Condors.

gI_89926_Grizzly Bears 20180608-32Almost three years since breaking ground and more than two decades in the making, Oakland Zoo’s highly anticipated California Trail opens to the public on July 12, 2018. The expansion more than doubles the Zoo’s current size from 45 acres to 100 acres. Eight new native California animal species, each selected for their historical significance to our state and status in the wild, have settled into their expansive new habitats – among the largest in the world and designed under the collaboration of animal behavior experts, wildlife experts, and notable habitat design experts. These species are American buffalo, Black bears, Grizzly Bears, Brown bears, Mountain lions, Jaguars, California condors, Gray wolves and Bald eagles.

California Trail is accessed by 24 eight-passenger open-air gondolas – ADA-accessible, and all-electric – custom-made by Austrian-Swiss Company, Doppelmayer. The gondolas transport guests on a four-minute ride up and over the rolling hills of Knowland Park to the California Trail site from the main Zoo. There, at 650 feet above sea-level, the gondolas arrive at the 3-story Kaiser Permanente Visitor Center, which houses The Landing Cafe, a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled 176-seat restaurant serving artisan menu items not available elsewhere in the Zoo. An observation deck at the restaurant provides panoramic views of six Bay Area counties. Guests can enjoy chef-inspired cuisine while taking in breathtaking views.

The California Trail also includes the interactive Clorox Overnight Experience ‘safari-style’ campground, the interactive California Conservation Habitarium, California Wilds! Playground, a one-of-a-kind play zone where children can mountain-climb, zip-line, and splash in five play zones inspired by the different ecological zones that the California Trail animals call home.

The Conservation Society of California, managing the Oakland Zoo, has made wildlife and ecology conservation forefront to the California Trail through the stories of the animals and what we can do to ensure the survival of their counterparts in the wild.
Many of the animals at California Trail come from rescue situations managed by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, where re-release into the wild was not possible due to no chance of survival following rehabilitation. These animals would have been euthanized if suitable placements were not found.

“The California Trail at Oakland Zoo is unique. Beyond the gondola ride, spectacular views, and our many rescued animals in their expansive habitats – this is about inspiring people to connect with our state’s remarkable biodiversity and how to live with wildlife so we can protect their futures,” Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo / Conservation Society of California.

Two Grizzly / Brown bear cubs, all orphans, and all males over one year of age arrived on May 25th.  Two California Condors arrived on May 10, from the San Diego Zoo and the Oregon Zoo. A Condor specialist from U.S. Fish & Wildlife and the lead biologist from Oakland Zoo’s conservation partner, the Ventana Wildlife Society in Big Sur, were present to oversee their arrival and release into their new 17,945 cubic foot aviary. The birds, with a 10 foot wingspan, were once critically endangered with only 22 left in the wild. Four female Bald eagles will arrive the week of June 25 from the Raptor Education Center in Wisconsin. All of these birds are rescues from the wild and unable to survive on their own.

Three Mountain lions cubs, two male and one female, were brought to the Zoo in December of last year by the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife in very ill condition. Through the attentive care of Zoo vets and animal keepers, Toro, Silverado, and Coloma have grown healthy and strong over the past few months and have created a tight bond with one another in their new home – of which their hammock made of firehouse by animal keepers seems to be a favorite for lounging.

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