Make the Conservation Connection

Did you know that each visitor to the Oakland Zoo is connected to each of our animals? It is true! Actions we all take each day affect the lives of animals all over the world. The Oakland Zoo is the perfect place to make that connection.

We invite you to read our Connection Messages. These messages include information about the threats animals face in both the wild and captivity, and what the Oakland Zoo's Conservation Fund is doing to help. Most importantly, these messages help visitors understand their own connection to each species, and what they can do to help as individuals.

The Oakland Zoo Docents are incorporating these vital messages all over the Zoo; on tours, at stations and during presentations. Look for a docent if you have any questions about the animals and how to help the survival of their species.

The messages here will change here every few months, so please keep checking back.

This is a docent-inspired project. The messages were researched and written by docents in collaboration with Oakland Zoo staff.

Malayan Flying Fox (Pteropus vampyrus)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Near threatened

Population Trend: Decreasing

Island Flying Fox (Pteropus hypomelanus)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Least concern

Population Trend: Decreasing

Bats play an important role in their ecosystem. These large fruit bats are pollinators and seed dispersers. When they fly from one tree to another to drink nectar, they also carry pollen from one flower to another. When they eat fruit they swallow the seeds along with the juice. After passing through the bats' digestive systems, the seeds are excreted in a different area of the forest, and are already wrapped in fertilizer!

The main threat to large fruit bats is loss of habitat. The rain forests where they live are being cut down, primarily for tropical hardwoods. These large trees are where the bats roost and feed.

The Oakland Zoo supports the Lubee Bat Conservancy, which helps bats through research, conservation, and education. Our bats actually came to us from Lubee, where they have a breeding program.

You are Connected to Island Flying Foxes and You Can Help Them:

  • Avoid tropical hardwoods like mahogany and teak and by purchasing only sustainable wood products certified by FSC.
  • Support the Lubee Bat Conservancy by donating to the Oakland Zoo's Conservation Fund.
  • Support artisan projects from Southeast Asia. It's a great ways to help wildlife, as the artisans help enable citizens to earn a livelihood without natural resource destruction.

North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Least concern

Population Trend: Stable

Most people assume these animals are sea otters, but there are actually thirteen different species of otters living around the world and these are river otters. They live all over North America in lakes, rivers, streams, and sometimes bays or estuaries where fresh water mixes with salt water.

This species is widespread and not endangered, but pollution is still threatening the quality of their habitat. Anything that people put on the ground, like litter, pesticides, or herbicides, washes into streams, rivers, and the ocean when it rains. These chemicals can get into the food chain, making otters sick, and some chemicals in the water can disturb the insulation of their fur.

The Oakland Zoo is taking action to keep our watershed clean. Arroyo Viejo Creek runs through Knowland Park, which surrounds the Zoo. We work with the City of Oakland to restore this span of the creek, removing litter and replacing non-native plants with native ones. Our volunteer group, The Arroyo Viejo Creek Crew meets once a month to keep the creek clean and healthy. We also distribute Seafood Watch cards produced by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These help people make good choices about which fish to eat based a variety of factors, such as fishing methods.

You are Connected to the North American River Otter and You Can Help Them:

  • Keep your own watershed clean by being careful about what goes down the storm drain where you live. Anything that goes down the outside storm drain ends up in a creek, then eventually the ocean.
  • If you change your car's oil at home, recycle the used oil instead of pouring it down the drain.
  • Wash your car at a car wash where waste water is treated. If you wash your car at home, do it on the lawn with biodegradable soap.
  • Carry a Seafood Watch Card in your wallet or use the Seafood Watch phone App for your seafood choices. Do not use toxic pesticides.

Panamanian Golden Frog/Golden Arrow Poison Frog (Atelopus Zeteki)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Critically endangered

Population Trend:Decreasing

Panamanian Golden Frogs cling to survival on mountain slopes of the Central Cordilleran rainforests of west-central Panama. Pre-Colombian indigenous peoples considered them sacred and crafted talismans in their form. The species continues to be a cultural symbol of the Republic of Panama and its image is found on everything from t-shirts to lottery tickets. Their bright color warns predators of their toxicity; like other brightly-hued frogs in tropical habitats, their skin secretes a potent neurotoxin.

Panamanian Golden Frogs are severely threatened by habitat loss due to deforestation, stream toxification from agricultural chemicals, illegal collection for the pet trade and a fungal outbreak (chytridiomycosis) that is destroying many amphibian species in Central America.

The Oakland Zoo participates in Project Golden Frog, a collaboration involving zoos, universities and government agencies. The project hopes to prevent extinction of this unique species through population and habitat assessment, captive breeding programs and education initiatives in the range country.

You are Connected to Frogs and You Can Help Them:

  • Protect amphibians that live in our own neighborhoods by volunteering with local and regional habitat restoration projects that help restore native habitat for amphibians and other animals and plants.
  • Support Project Golden Frog by donating to the Oakland Zoo Conservation Fund.
  • If you have pet amphibians, please do not release them into the wild as they may introduce dangerous diseases to susceptible local populations.
  • Teach children to look but not to catch and hold local amphibians, like frogs, in order to keep them healthy and thriving in our own backyard.

Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Endangered

Population Trend:Decreasing

Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata)

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status: Vulnerable

The Spotted Turtles in this exhibit are native to the Eastern United States, but we have a similar small turtle in California. In fact, we only have one native aquatic turtle: the Western Pond Turtle.

Invasive species are the main threat to Western Pond Turtle survival. Eastern Bullfrogs were introduced into the wild in California. These bullfrogs eat young Western Pond Turtles before they are old enough to breed. Red-eared Slider Turtles are also not native to California, but when they are released by people, they compete with the Western Pond Turtle for food and habitat.

The Oakland Zoo has partnered with Sonoma State University to "head start" baby turtles. Biologists collect eggs laid in the wild. The eggs are incubated at the zoo and after they hatch the baby turtles are kept safe and well-fed for about six months. This allows the turtles to grow much faster than in the wild. Once they are too big to be eaten by bullfrogs, the turtles are released into the same pond where the eggs were collected.

You are Connected to the Western Pond Turtle and You Can Help Them:

  • Do not release a pet into the wild, as it will not be able to take care of itself. It may also damage the local habitat and harm the other animals that live there.
  • Be mindful in your pet choices. Consider how long that animal is going to live, and what you are going to do with it if you aren't able to care for it anymore.
  • If you are interested in a pet turtle, other reptile, or any animal, learn all you can about their needs, then go to a shelter or rescue center. These facilities are listed on our website.

In the Field N. America

In the Field Africa

In the Field Asia

In the Field L. America

In the Field Global

The Green Zoo

Conservation On-Site

Quarters for Conservation

CA Condor Recovery Program

Arroyo Viejo Creek Project

Make the Connection

Western Pond Turtle

Mountain Yellow Legged Frog

Puerto Rican Crested Toad

Mountain Lion Initiative

Take Action