Conservation Society of California and Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo was founded in 1922 by naturalist Henry A. Snow. In 1936, Henry's son, Sidney, established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was originally known as the Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society. The East Bay Zoological Society operated and managed the Zoo for the City of Oakland from 1982 until August 2017, when it was renamed the Conservation Society of California to better reflect the Zoo’s evolving purpose and mission in its commitment to conservation.

Our History

Attractions, Animal Care, and Education

Over the past twenty-five years there have been countless capital improvements to improve animal care, habitat design and the visitor experience. The Zoo is comprised of several regions: Adventure Landing, African Savanna, African Veldt, Flamingo Plaza, Tropical Rain Forest, Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo, Wild Australia, and California Trail. Over 850 native and exotic animals live in expansive naturalistic habitats and include chimpanzees, sun bears, elephants, lions, giraffes and more. Many of the Zoo’s animals are rescues. In 1991, the Zoo pioneered the “protected contact” methodology in animal husbandry, which places barriers between zookeepers and elephants and incorporates persuasion through rewards rather than discipline. The progress we have made and continue to make to this keystone program has garnered respect and approval from animal behaviorists around the world, and most importantly resulted in happy and healthy elephants. The Zoo is committed to providing an outstanding experience for Zoo visitors, delivering a rich array of education programs and a great family experience.

Conservation Society of California

Governed by a Board of Trustees, the Conservation Society of California manages and operates Oakland Zoo and is comprised of dedicated volunteers who provide oversight of the organization's mission, core values and policies.

Dedicated to Conservation


With a focus on 15 key species and in alignment with local and global initiatives and partnerships, the Conservation Society of California is committed to conservation-based education and saving species in their habitats in the wild. Zoo-based education efforts in conservation are extensive and growing, as is expanding existing zoological programs such as re-populating critically endangered species back into the wild and collaborating with conservationists locally and abroad in research studies to benefit animals both captive and in the wild.

As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Zoo is part of the largest conservation organization in the nation. 230 AZA-accredited zoo and aquarium institutions contribute over $160 million every year to wildlife conservation. AZA institutions also train 40,000 teachers every year, supporting state science curricula with teaching materials and hands-on opportunities for students who might otherwise have no first-hand experience with wildlife. We are committed to leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife both locally and globally.


Public Support

The Conservation Society of California—Oakland Zoo is supported by private individuals, foundations, corporations, and memberships. Public support contributed 8% of the Zoo's 2023 operating budget of $27.34 million. Public support helps community accessibility to the Zoo, so all economic levels can experience the nature, wildlife, and educational engagement we have to offer.

Watch the Conservation Society of California/Oakland Zoo Annual Meeting from January 31, 2024: