Press Release: 08/15/2013

Oakland Zoo Set to Open New Biodiversity Center

Contact:
Nicky Mora, Senior Marketing Manager/PR Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director
(510)632-9525 ext. 130 (510)632-9525 ext. 122
nmora@oaklandzoo.org amy@oaklandzoo.org

Oakland, CA, August 22, 2013

On Thursday, August 22, 2013, Oakland Zoo will open its new Biodiversity Center, a breeding, research, and education facility devoted to the conservation of endangered and threatened animals, plants and habitats.

“The Oakland Zoo Biodiversity Center is an important contribution to the global efforts to preserve our planet’s rich and diverse wildlife through conservation, research, education, and public participation”, said Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Research. “The Center will directly support critically endangered species both through captive breeding and by head starting. Animals bred in the Center will be introduced to wild habitats. Juveniles vulnerable in the wild will be brought to the center during their developmental period and returned to the wild once they are past their most vulnerable period.”

The Biodiversity Center Research Labs will house and display current and ongoing research activities and programs focused on the study, management, protection, and restoration of threatened and endangered species including the Western pond turtle, California condor, mountain lion, and mountain yellow-legged frog. For more than five years, Oakland Zoo has partnered with Sonoma State University and San Francisco Zoo to research, raise, and release western pond turtles back into the wild. Turtle eggs are collected each year from a site in Lake County and transported to SSU for incubation. Once the eggs hatch, the tiny turtles are raised by zoo keepers at Oakland Zoo and San Francisco Zoo. To date, Oakland Zoo has fostered more than 150 baby turtles until they were large enough to live in the wild. Continued studies of their nesting patterns, breeding, habitat threats, incubation, growth, and diets are bringing the partnership closer to a long range strategy to save these important reptiles.

“The North Bay Western Pond Turtle Project has been a unique collaboration between the Conservation Department at Oakland Zoo and my laboratory at Sonoma State University that is a model for the key role that zoos can play in both basic science and applied conservation of imperiled local species,” said Dr. Nick Geist, Professor of Biology at Sonoma State. “Working closely together we have been able to establish a highly effective program that has the potential save these amazing animals. Without the zoo’s enthusiasm and expertise of their staff, we never could have had this kind of success.”

The California Biodiversity Classroom will educate visitors on the crucial interdependence of plants, animals, people, and the environment as well as the importance of becoming responsible stewards of California’s rich natural heritage through hands-on, interactive scientific research activities including “citizen science” projects, habitat restoration, and field biology workshops. For example, Zoo staff, volunteers, and guests currently participate in “citizen science” projects collecting data for local, state, national, and international conservation agencies. Since 2010, staff and volunteers have conducted bird counts as part of Project Feeder Watch, a winter-long study of migratory patterns led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies in Canada. Oakland Zoo’s own Wild Watch program was created in 2013 and uses citizen scientists to monitor and record year-round wildlife and environmental change throughout the Zoo and Knowland Park. While not open to the general public, the Biodiversity Center will be available for specially arranged groups of junior high students, high school students, college students, volunteers, and researchers. Located in the newly renovated building that formerly housed the Zoo’s Veterinary Care Center, the Biodiversity Center was made possible by an initial grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE) and matching funding from an anonymous donor through the San Francisco Foundation. Chevron Corporation also participated by providing funding for interpretive materials and equipment for the California Biodiversity Classroom.

ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO:

The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid's activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks.


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