Oakland Zoo Honored with National Award for Exhibit Design

Oakland Zoo
September 24, 2019


Rob Vernon, AZA, 301-244-3352; rvernon@aza.org

Erin Harrison, Oakland Zoo, 510-746-7120; eharrison@oaklandzoo.org

Oakland Zoo Honored with National Award for Exhibit Design

Silver Spring, Maryland -- September 24, 2019...The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced that Oakland Zoo has been recognized with AZA’s 2019 Exhibit Design Award for its significant achievement in creating the California Trail exhibit. Oakland Zoo received this national award during AZA’s September conference in New Orleans.

“This award congratulates Oakland Zoo for significant achievement in designing a naturalistic, engaging habitat that provides high-quality animal care and welfare as well as meaningful guest experiences,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “California Trail goes above and beyond AZA’s rigorous standards for animal management, safety, conservation, and education, and should be considered a model for others.”

With its annual Exhibit Award, AZA recognizes excellence by an AZA-accredited facility (US or international) or certified related facility member in the areas of exhibit design and providing visitors with the opportunity to engage in observing and learning about the animals.

More than two decades in the making, Oakland Zoo’s California Trail exhibit opened to the public on July 12, 2018. The expansion more than doubled the Zoo’s size, from 45 acres to 100 acres. Eight new native California animal species, each selected for their historical significance to the state and status in the wild, have settled into their expansive new habitats – among the largest in the world and designed under the collaboration of animal behavior experts, wildlife experts, and notable habitat design experts. These species are American buffalo, Black bears, Grizzly Bears, Brown bears, Mountain lions, Jaguars, California condors, Gray wolves and Bald eagles.

“The California Trail at Oakland Zoo is unique. Beyond the gondola ride, spectacular views, and our many rescued animals in their expansive habitats – this is about inspiring people to connect with our state’s remarkable biodiversity and how to live with wildlife so we can protect their futures,” said Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo.

The California Trail also includes the interactive California Conservation Habitarium, Conservation Action Tent, California Wilds! Playground based on California’s diverse eco-zones, and the Clorox Overnight Experience ‘safari-style’ campground.  

The Conservation Society of California, managing the Oakland Zoo, has made wildlife and ecology conservation forefront to the California Trail through the stories of the animals and what we can do to ensure the survival of their counterparts in the wild.

The construction/consultation companies for the exhibit are listed below.

Architect: Noll & Tam Architects

Zoological Designer: PJA Architects

General Contractor: Overaa Construction

Construction Manager: Howard Fuchs


Structural Engineer: Kenneth Hughes Structural Engineering

Mechanical/Plumbing Engineer: Taylor Engineering

Electrical Engineer: O’Mahony & Myer, Inc.

Civil Engineer: Aliquot Associates, Inc.

Kitchen Design: RAS Design Group

Gondola Designer: Doppelmayr

To learn more about AZA’s Honors and Awards, please visit: https://www.aza.org/honors-awards.


Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850+ native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); a non-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eleven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.