taking action for


The Oakland Zoo supports eco-trips to Guatemala where delegates have donated over 5,000 volunteer hours to the care of wild macaws at ARCAS. We have supported ARCAS in carrying out a pioneer project in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala to reinforce one of the last wild populations of scarlet macaws. We have inspired over 50,000 Oakland Zoo guests to protect macaws at our Inside the Illegal Wildlife Trade Exhibit.

Macaws are flying, flamboyant reminders of the brilliant beauty and diversity of our planet, especially our precious rainforests. Much of Earth’s biodiversity resides within these lush ecosystems, from scarlet macaws to spider monkeys to margays, and these dense forests are crucial to the overall health of our planet. Sadly, rainforest animals are threatened by human driven habitat destruction, as well as the illegal wildlife trade, one of the most illicit and (sadly) lucrative crimes of our times. Oakland Zoo is committed to a future where macaws and their rainforest homes are protected.

Conservation Challenges

The Illegal Wildlife Trade

An illegal multibillion-dollar industry, wildlife trafficking is a major cause of species extinction. This horrible, illegal trade benefits criminal networks and corrupt governments alike — all at the expense of innocent wild animals. Global demand for exotic wildlife pets and products result in indescribable suffering for animals caught in the trade. It also is devastating to overall populations of endangered species and their habitats, including the rainforest. 

90% of animals smuggled for the pet trade die in transit, and those that survive need demanding rehabilitation. For example, the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala's Peten region is the largest intact tropical rainforest in Central America, home to an incredible variety of wildlife. Unfortunately, it is also a hotspot for illegal wildlife trafficking.

Habitat Loss

Habitat loss, like that of our rainforests, is often the result of increased populations. With more people living around protected areas, the need for food and fuel wood increases. These demands result in illegal timber harvesting, increased need to make money for families, and more deforestation to grow crops and house livestock.

Dr. Alejandro Morales (ARCAS) and Adrienne Mrsny (Oakland Zoo) examine a rescued bird at ARCAS in Guatemala

Oakland Zoo is Taking Action for the Macaw and Rainforest Wildlife

Project Support

The Zoo supports the mission of ARCAS in Guatemala through an annual partnership grant, which supports their work rehabilitating and releasing animals caught in the illegal wildlife trade. Oakland Zoo helped support the creation of the new ARCAS Biodiversity Education and Interpretation Center, in order to engage both travelers and the community to stop the trade before it starts. Oakland Zoo also sponsored a large and lush habitat for unreleasable jaguars, and various radio collars for ocelots, scarlet macaws, spider monkeys for animal releases and tracking. 

Community Engagement 

Oakland Zoo shares conservation issues facing the illegal wildlife trade, Central American species, and habitat conservation, as well as empowering solutions to conserve them to the public through a variety of channels: Docents and Volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, Education programs, events, exhibits, campaigns, Keeper Talks, and media stories. Oakland Zoo is committed to combating the Illegal Wildlife Trade with a comprehensive campaign to ensure our community is part of the solution: #Endthetrade: Illegal Wildlife Trade.  Additionally, Oakland Zoo’s Say No to Plastic Pledge was created with a vision to keep all habitats free of plastic pollution.

Leadership Training and Staff Expertise

Oakland Zoo provides yearly professional development training for field partners, offering them a myriad of staff skills and resources to enhance conservation efforts. The Zoo has sent staff with expertise in education, veterinary training, conservation, media, and animal care to ARCAS in Guatemala, to assist with rehabilitation of wildlife rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.  

Sales that Save Wildlife

Oakland Zoo offers Town Zoo Beer made by Ale Industries in Oakland, proceeds of which directly supported ARCAS and efforts to prevent the illegal wildlife trade in Guatemala in 2021. Shade-Grown Coffee is sold at Zoo cafes, ensuring that the coffee buzz enjoyed by patrons does not devastate rainforests with deforested agriculture. 

Eco-Travel with Impact

Oakland Zoo’s Eco-Travel to Guatemala focuses on ARCAS, providing authentic hands-on work: chopping food for animal diets, cleaning enclosures, and creating special projects that support crucial conservation work. Oakland Zoo offers travel participants a unique glimpse into the complexities of conservation issues and solutions with the aim to positively impact our partner projects, our travelers, and wildlife.

Forever Homes

Oakland Zoo is committed to animal welfare and offers a forever home to animals in need due to injury, parental loss due to car strikes or fires, the illegal pet trade, human-wildlife conflict, or other challenges.  Some of Oakland Zoo's macaws were once pets. When their owners realized that keeping them in a small enclosure wasn’t giving the macaws the best home possible, Oakland Zoo was able to help by giving the macaws a beautiful, spacious, flyable habitat and forever home.

ARCAS Guatemala Logo on white background

ARCAS Guatemala

ARCAS serves as a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that are being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government, while also participating in other conservation, education, and sustainability efforts.

Oakland Zoo's Adrienne Mrsny feeds rescued parrots at ARCAS in Guatemala.

Taking Action for Macaws: You Can Too!

  • VOLUNTEER at ARCAS! Learn more about their international volunteer program.
  • EXPERIENCE an Eco-Travel trip to Guatemala and visit ARCAS to learn more about the project first hand.
  • TAKE Oakland Zoo’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Pledge to save animals from the exotic pet trade.
  • SAY NO to plastic and take Oakland Zoo’s Say No to Plastic Pledge to save wildlife.
  • ADOPT, DON’T SHOP and do your research before getting your next pet. Look for animals that need to be adopted or rescued. Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue or the SPCA are good resources for people considering rescued birds.
  • ENJOY rainforest-friendly coffee, chocolate, tea and other products that do not degrade the forest. Just look for the frog logo!