Oakland Zoo Closed — Effective Tuesday, March 17

Oakland, CA – March 16, 2020

In accordance with Alameda County’s order for residents to ‘shelter in place’ for the well-being of public and staff related to COVID-19 precautionary measures, Oakland Zoo will be closed Tuesday, March 17 and remain closed until the order is lifted.

We are committed to the effort to reduce the transmission of COVID 19 to our community, our staff, and our visiting public. One of our core values at Oakland Zoo is of compassion, and our taking care of each other. Health safety for all is a priority for us. This is a stressful time for all with many unknowns. We look forward to welcoming back our staff and visitors at the earliest opportunity possible.” -Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO, Conservation Society of California — Oakland Zoo.

Staff able to work remotely will do so. Animal Care and Veterinary Hospital staff will continue to be onsite for ongoing routine care and management of the more than 750 animals at Oakland Zoo, while practicing precautionary measures such as social distancing and hand washing as advised by the California Department of Health. Critical operational teams needed to maintain grounds and other systems will also remain onsite with the aforementioned precautionary measures in place.

Animal Care staff and Veterinary Hospital teams are in touch with zoonotic disease specialists to ensure our animals are protected from any health risk. No animals at Oakland Zoo have or are showing any signs of illness.

Nature and wildlife-based education programs that can be enjoyed and practiced at home are being now developed by Oakland Zoo’s Education Department and will be offered through the Zoo’s website in the coming days.


How will Oakland Zoo make decisions regarding COVID-19?

The California Department of Public Health is the lead agency in public health crisis situations in our state and provides public facilities direction on how to manage responses. We are continuing to work closely with the California Department of Public Health and Alameda County Public Health Department so we can respond quickly to any changes in their recommendations, guidance, and direction. We will remain in active contact with the Department of Health officials.

Will Oakland Zoo reopen?

Oakland Zoo is closed March 17 and will re-open soon, when the County of Alameda allows us to. Updates, announcements, and any changes to our operating hours will be posted here and also on our social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).

What about the animals?

On April 5, 2020, the USDA reported the first case of an animal contracting COVID-19; a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York. Our Animal Care staff and Veterinary Hospital teams are reviewing data from zoonotic disease specialists and have responded to this news by expanding our PPE (personal protective equipment: face masks, gloves, and hand washing before food preparation and during feeding) protocols when within 6 feet of the species listed below at Oakland Zoo, as a precautionary measure. No animals at Oakland Zoo have or are showing any signs of illness.

In addition to primates, which we have been implementing expanded PPE protocols with, all of the following species under the scientific grouping, 'order carnivora', are now also included in our PPE protocols: bears, hyenas, African lions, tigers, mountain lions, jaguar, wolves, ferrets, and otters. We are taking further additional precautions by adding our elephants, pigs, and bats to these PPE protocols.

Please know we are responsive to all evolving developments and scientific data findings on COVID-19 and will re-evaluate and respond to any further evidence-based research and findings with additional protocols as recommended or needed. Our animals' health and safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to protect our animals from contracting COVID-19 from a potential asymptomatic Animal Care / Veterinary staff member.

If you have pets at home, please do not be alarmed about this new case at the Bronx Zoo. There is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 to people other than the initial event in the Wuhan market, and no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats. There have been two cases of housecats in New York contracting COVID-19 from their owners, but no cases where animals infected their owners.

What is happening to the employees at Oakland Zoo?

As is the case with other attendance-driven cultural institutions across the nation, without attendance revenue and the kinds of additional support that many nonprofit organizations like ours rely on, Oakland Zoo will be in dire financial straits for many months to come. With temporary relief through the federal Payroll Protection Program we are able to pay all of our full time staff their wages through May. The Zoo made the difficult decision to lay off part-time and seasonal employees effective April 1. We will continue to prioritize the pay and continuity of our essential animal care and veterinary staff to ensure that our animals are cared for. We understand that many of you are personally facing the same challenge, but if you’re able, please consider making a donation to our Animal Care Fund to help the Zoo sustain our animal care operations.

How can I support the Zoo during this time?

More than 90% of the Zoo’s income is generated through admissions and concessions, membership and donations from our community. We rely on this income to provide our 750 animals with the highest quality veterinary care, the most nutritious diets and engaging behavioral enrichment. During these uncertain times we need your support more than ever to care for the animals you know and love. Please consider making a donation of any size to support our animals here.

What will happen to the animals at Oakland Zoo during the closure?

We remain committed to providing world-class animal care to our more than 750 animals. Animal Care and Veterinary Hospital staff taking care of wildlife and maintaining other critical systems will remain active on grounds.

I bought a ticket online, can I get a refund?

Tickets purchased online can be used for up to twelve months from the date of purchase. We encourage you to keep your ticket and visit us when the Zoo is open again. We are crafting a policy around refunds during this time and will communicate updates on this webpage. Thank you for your flexibility during this evolving situation.

I have a guest pass that is expiring soon, will it still be valid?

Guest passes expiring in March, April, and May will be extended by 6 weeks from the date the Zoo reopens.

I bought tickets on Groupon that expire within 60 days of purchase. Will you extend the expiration since you’re closed through May 31?

Yes, if you bought tickets on Groupon earlier this year and have not yet used them, we are extending the expiration by 30 days. Groupon will be contacting you with additional information.

I have a facility or group reservation for a private event or birthday party. What happens now?

All events and birthday parties scheduled for March 17– May 31 will be postponed or cancelled. Contact or to process a refund or select a new date. 

To make a new reservation for an event or birthday party beyond May 31, please wait until June 1 to do so.

Can I extend or get a refund on my membership?

Our commitment is to provide our members with twelve months of benefits, which includes year-round access to the Zoo. There is no penalty if you choose to renew while we are closed and there is no advantage to waiting to renew until we reopen. We encourage our members to maintain and/or renew their memberships to ensure that we can provide our animals with the critical care they need. Members were notified on April 21 how their expiration date will change if the Zoo is able to reopen by July 1.

Our standing policy is that memberships are non-transferable and non-refundable.

We are using email to communicate with Members during the Zoo’s closure. If you have not received email updates from since March 17, please visit our Newsletter Subscription page. Complete the form, check mark “Zoo News” and any other topics of interest to you, and click the Subscribe button. You will receive an email confirming we have permission to email you in the future.

Please email for questions about your membership. Be aware our response time may be slow during this period.

What is happening with school programming during this time?

All school programs between March 17 – May 31 have been cancelled and parties will be refunded. Availability of programming in May will be communicated before the end of May.

What is happening with overnight experiences during this time?

All overnight experiences between March 17 – May 31 have been cancelled and parties will be refunded. Availability of programming in May will be communicated before the end of May.

Is ZooCamp cancelled?

At this time ZooCamp for March 30–April 7 and April 8-10 are both cancelled and we will issue refunds.

I have a Scout program scheduled in April or May, what should I do?

All Scout programs between March 17 – May 31 have been cancelled and parties will be refunded. Availability of programming in May will be communicated before the end of May.

I’m a volunteer, what should I do?

You may not come to the Zoo before May 4, or when the allowed to do so by the Alameda County ordinance. You will receive further communications as developments occur.

What can I do to help prevent the spread of disease including the common cold, flu and COVID-19?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations include the following:

It is also recommended that people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:

Where can I find more information?

For more information and to stay-up-to-date on the evolving situation, visit these sites:

Oakland Zoo on Social: