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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Extinction of species and ecosystem impact
Relocated species may impact the well being of local wildlife
Incidental entrapment and death of nontargeted species
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.
Before buying a pet, make sure you are fully informed about your purchase and the seller.
Before you take a photo or click to share wildlife content, consider how an animal's welfare may be affected either locally or in the wild.