Prevent Improper Pet Ownership

Far too many exotic animals suffer or perish in substandard conditions as privately owned pets. Oakland Zoo is Taking Action to promote responsible pet ownership, and to rescue and re-home improperly owned animals.

See how Oakland Zoo is Taking Action.

Promote domestic pet ownership.

  • In an effort to promote domestic animals as pets, cats (adopted from the East Bay SPCA) were added to our Petting Yard. In addition, Lily, the official Oakland Zoo dog, can often be seen roaming the Zoo. They, alongside adopted domestic rabbits, serve as ambassador species in support of responsible, companion pet adoption.

  • In our Tropical Rainforest area we share messaging with guests about the risks and responsibilities of owning parrots as pets.

a small grey and white primate staring into the camera

Expand education.

  • Exotic pets can carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans or other animals. Preventing improper pet ownership and rescuing improperly cared for pets reduces the spread of these zoonotic diseases.

  • Many owners are unaware of the expense and resources required to take care of exotic pets (special dietary, veterinary and habitat needs). We are committed to educating our guests and the general public on the scope of responsible pet ownership.

  • Targeted to current and prospective rabbit owners, messaging at the rabbit habitat explains how to create enclosures and care for rabbits in a manner that supports their natural behavior.

  • We share Primates Aren't Pets messaging online and at the Zoo near our primate habitats.

Gray cat looking into the camera

Partnering for proper pets.

  • We support the Not a Pet campaign, created by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare to spread awareness of the ongoing tragedies caused by improper pet ownership.

  • In August 2022, Oakland Zoo hosted our first ever "Clear The Shelters" pet adoption event, in partnership with NBC, Oakland Animal Services, and East Bay SPCA. 48 animals found new homes. We are continuing this success by hosting a pet adoption day annually.

Rescue privately-owned animals from dangerous conditions.

Because animal ownership laws vary greatly from state to state, many exotic animals are owned legally but forced to live in dangerous or harmful conditions. Oakland Zoo has rescued many animals that were previously privately (and legally) owned -- including all of the animals in the gallery below.

See how you can take action and save lives.

Three easy ways to pledge your support.

graphic of a diverse group of people raising their hands

Be smart with your cart.

Before buying a pet, make sure you are fully informed about your purchase and the seller.

Show care when you share.

Before you take a photo or click to share wildlife content, consider how an animal's wellbeing may be affected either locally or in the wild.

Take the pledge.

Count me in
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