Aerial Gondola and Hilltop Restaurant Opening at Oakland Zoo’s Monumental California Trail Expansion

Erin Harrison
June 10, 2017

Oakland, CA – June 10, 2017…Oakland Zoo’s highly anticipated aerial gondola and hilltop restaurant, The Landing Cafe, are opening to the public on June 5, 2017, with special Member Preview days on June 3 and 4. This marks the first phase of opening the zoo’s monumental California Trail expansion, which doubles the current size of the zoo to 100 acres. In summer 2018, the entirety of California Trail will open, featuring eight new native California animal species in expansive exhibits, the California Conservation Habitarium, Jim and Joy McMullen Kids Playzone, Clorox Outdoor Overnight Experience campground and more.

The ADA-accessible, all-electric, eight-passenger gondolas, custom-made by Austrian-Swiss Company, Doppelmayer, will transport guests on a four-minute ride up and over the rolling hills of Knowland Park to the California Trail site from the main Zoo. There, at 650 feet above sea-level, the gondolas arrive at the 3-story Kaiser Permanente Visitor Center, which houses The Landing Cafe, a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled 176-seat restaurant serving artisan menu items not available elsewhere in the Zoo. An observation deck at the restaurant provides panoramic views of six Bay Area counties. Guests can enjoy chef-inspired cuisine while taking in breathtaking views.

“The California Trail at Oakland Zoo will be unique. For our visitors, the gondola cars will provide a fun, environmentally sensitive, and inspiring way of getting there. The breathtaking view was paramount in our planning for the restaurant. I look forward to unveiling this phase of opening to the public and offering them this experience that can’t be found elsewhere in the U.S.,” said Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo.

The menu features hand-tossed pizzas, artisan burgers and sandwiches, and gourmet salads. Ingredients will be locally-sourced when possible and beer and wine will be offered in the near future. The location will be available for booking for corporate events, weddings and private parties during off hours. Service Systems Associates (SSA), a national leader in culinary management in cultural institutions is managing and operating The Landing Café.

While construction on the California Trail at Oakland Zoo began in September 2015, the massive project is a culmination of 25 years of planning under the vision of Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo since 1985. The California Trail expansion consists of 56-acres (bringing the Oakland Zoo’s new size to 100 acres).

California Trail represents $70 million out of an $81 million multi-phase Zoo development, 85% of which has been raised through private donors and zoo operations. In 2012, a fully-funded LEED certified Veterinary Hospital opened, followed by the opening in 2013 of the Oakland Zoo Biodiversity Center, and the 2014 inauguration of the Condor Recovery Center at Oakland Zoo. Each of these projects has advanced care of the Zoo’s animals as well as conservation of the species in the wild, from mountain lions and condors to frogs and turtles, including life-saving research in partnership with local conservation scientists. California Trail will focus on California’s natural legacy; animals that have all but disappeared from our surrounding landscape – with the intent to inspire people to take action for wildlife and ensure their future in the wild.

Many, if not all, of native Californian animals that will be exhibited at the California Trail will come from rescue situations. These animals will be coming to the zoo over the course of the next 12 months, but will not be publicly exhibited until the California Trail grand opening in summer 2018.

About California Trail at Oakland Zoo

California Trail brings to life the rich natural history of California in a whole new way. Designed to be more like a wild animal park, California Trail will feature the state's historic and iconic animal species in large exhibits, including grey wolves, grizzly bears, jaguars, mountain lions, bald eagles, California condors, black bears, and American bison. Through the California Trail experience, Oakland Zoo presents a dynamic and inspiring story about finding balance in how we steward our state's natural legacy. Interactive features along the Trail will help to complete the animals' stories with a vision for their healthy future in the wild and opportunities for you to help them thrive.

About Oakland Zoo

The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 700 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. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 25¢ from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world. The California Trail, a transformational project that more than doubles our size, opens in 2018, and will further our commitment to animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on this state's remarkable native wildlife. 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.


Erin Harrison, Oakland Zoo,, 510-632-9525 ext. 135