Oakland Zoo advocates and takes action for the betterment of cats, bears, chimpanzees, and other animals who live in subpar captive conditions. Bred for personal or financial gain, very young animals are taken from their mothers to be exploited for entertainment purposes. These captive animals often live in subpar conditions, are mistreated, are malnourished, and never receive the specialized care they require. Working with remarkable organizations, Oakland Zoo rescues, rehabilitates, and advocates for bears, lions, tigers, and more.
Oakland Zoo is rallying support for the federal Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA), legislature that will prohibit the breeding of big cats by private owners. Public signatures and a letter from Oakland Zoo have been submitted to the US Congress. The passing of this legislature would help put an end to businesses that practice ‘cub petting’ for profit, as exemplified on the popular show, “Tiger King.”
Oakland Zoo is leading action within the entire AZA* network of 160+ zoos and aquariums nationwide to garner support for BCPSA in the US Congress.
We meet with lawmakers and participate in hearings on Capitol Hill to help move this legislature forward.
*Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.
In a recent case against a non-accredited roadside zoo in Virginia, Oakland Zoo provided consultation and expert testimony regarding the inhumane conditions endured by the animals that lived there. In 2019, the owner and caretaker was convicted of cruelty, neglect, and deprivation of adequate care. More than 200 animals were seized, including lions, tigers, and Himalayan black bears. For work on this case, the Humane Society of United States honored Oakland Zoo—alongside the county sheriff’s office, county animal control, and other wildlife experts—in its 2021 Humane Law Enforcement Awards.
In 2017, Oakland Zoo provided consultation in another case involving animal conditions at a roadside zoo. A settlement was reached, and a black bear and brown bear were relocated to an accredited sanctuary.
Oakland Zoo will testify in an expert witness capacity in various upcoming criminal trials, including wildlife trafficking and lion and tiger cub cruelty cases.
Our work to protect all animals from cruelty, in partnership with organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society of the United States, is ongoing.
We are dedicated to messaging the importance of animal welfare throughout our Zoo, through signage, Docents, or digital media. Many animals that live at Oakland Zoo were once victims of the illegal wildlife trade. We aim to increase awareness about animal protection initiatives and the dangers—to humans and animals—of illegal animal ownership.
On behalf of rescued circus lions in Peru, Oakland Zoo raised funds for Animal Defenders International to help transport the confiscated and rescued lions to a sanctuary in South Africa in 2016.
In 2003, when more than 50 tigers were rescued from an unaccredited sanctuary in Southern California, Oakland Zoo assisted with transportation to PAWS.
In 2000, Oakland Zoo provided sanctuary to two lion cubs—Leonard and Sandy—confiscated by authorities from drug dealers in Texas. Pictured above, the siblings were closely bonded and lived in their expansive habitat until they passed from natural causes a few years ago.
In 1999, three tigers—Toroko, Suma, and Maya—were relinquished by a traveling circus that came to Oakland. Oakland Zoo rescued the tigers and provided permanent sanctuary to them for the rest of their lives.
In 2011, tigers Molly, Milou, Ginger, and Grace needed a home when their private owners, who had used them in their ‘cub petting’ business, no longer could profit from them because of their full grown size. We provided transportation from Texas, and a forever home at Oakland Zoo to all four tigers.
In 2022, Oakland Zoo, in partnership with two globally accredited big cat sanctuaries, rescued four big cats from an abandoned roadside zoo in Oklahoma. We welcomed two tigers -- Lola and Mia -- from this rescue to Oakland Zoo, where we are providing rehabilitative medical care and forever homes for them.
Included in Oakland Zoo's goals for the future is to have a large-scale sanctuary for big cats, bears, and chimps; both on site and potentially off site.