Wildlife Rescue & Recovery


Our Golden State is a biodiversity hot spot, teeming with wildlife that we love and protect, like California condors, mountain lions, endangered rabbits, black bears, native frogs, and more. Sadly, our native animals face great challenges, like car strikes, lead poisoning, pandemics, and climate-related wildfires. Oakland Zoo’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery efforts aim to use our skills and facilities to assist native animals in need so that the wildlife we live with remains part of our rich California heritage.

Challenges to Conservation

As habitat for many native species suffers degradation due to development, wildlife corridors are being fragmented, and animals such as pumas are suffering car strikes. Loss of a female puma can lead to orphaned kittens that are too young to be on their own. When found, these cubs are often suffering from injury or starvation and need immediate rescue and care. California’s wildfires have also added to the number of animals that need specialized burn-related medical attention and prolonged care in hopes of a full recovery.

Endangered California condors face their own threats due to lead poisoning, and lead toxicosis is thought to be the overwhelming reason that the California condor population remains unable to sustain itself. The birds become poisoned from lead fragments remaining in carcasses of animals that were shot using lead ammunition. The population at Pinnacles National Park is examined for lead poisoning regularly, and at times these birds need chelation and continued care and treatment before they are ready to return to the wild. Native rabbits face viruses, and amphibian species suffer from pandemics and climate related disease.

These species and others face a growing demand for skilled professionals and excellent facilities to receive the care they require.

Conservation Approaches

Seeing a need, Oakland Zoo’s Wildlife Rescue and Recovery efforts offer expertise, world-class facilities and the willingness to respond on a moment’s notice to help our state provide emergency care to our precious wildlife.  Our aim is to grow our capacity to take in and treat more sick and injured wildlife, as well as work to combat the issues facing them in the first place. We are proud to be of service to the individual animals that we treat, and the well-being of each species that shares our beautiful state.

Oakland Zoo Takes Action...

Staff Expertise

Caring for mountain lions in need has become an Oakland Zoo specialty, as we have received many sick or injured pumas of all ages through a partnership with California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Burn victims need the most dedicated care, and Oakland Zoo continues to employ our state-of-the-art treatments to heal the most tender puma kitten paws with inspiring results, as well as prepare the cubs for a successful forever home when needed.

Oakland Zoo staff are specially trained to provide medical care, including lead chelation therapy, to wild condors that are deemed ill or injured by field biologists, as well as offer excellent husbandry and rehabilitation, ensuring the California condors have the best chance at a healthy life once released back into the wild.  

Oakland Zoo answers the call of preventing the possible extinction of the Riparian Brush rabbit. Staff work to safely capture the wild rabbits and administer vaccinations and care before releasing them back into the wild.  

Oakland Zoo staff has set up a specialized bio lab to care for amphibians in crisis due to the chytrid fungus, and have been asked by CDFW to house the first captive group of Foothill Yellow-Legged Frogs affected by wildlife to create the best practice for breeding them in captivity.

Forever Homes

When needed, Oakland Zoo provides a forever home to some of these individual animals that cannot be safely released.

Community Engagement

Oakland Zoo shares the conservation issues facing native wildlife, as well as empowering solutions through Docents and Volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, Education Programs, Events, Exhibits, Campaigns and Media with an aim to inspire behaviors that prevent these conservation challenges.

...And So Can You!


California Condors

Mountain Lions

Mountain Lion Initiative

California Condor Recovery Program

Mountain-Yellow Legged Frog Project

Riparian Brush Rabbit Recovery

California Department of Fish & Wildlife