7 Reasons to Visit the Oakland Zoo

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Source: Sarah Sammis

Oakland Zoo is located in the southeastern Oakland, California, United States. Previously known as the Knowland Zoo, it has been named as one of the best family destinations. Even though it is comparatively small for a city of its size, Oakland Zoo is less crowded and famous for its modern exhibits. Sprawling across an area of 100 acres, it houses more than 660 native and exotic animals. Visitors are even permitted to touch them and what not.

1. Variety of animals

Source: Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup

This might be the best chance to walk around nature in the presence of beautiful birds, wild animals, amphibians,  snakes, reptiles,  and arthropods closely. A majority of them are kept in a fairly natural habitat and are not confined to large cages. The strategy is to have lesser number of animals but to provide them best accommodation possible. Visitors are allowed to feed the goats in the Petting Zoo. This place has tons of big animals, particularly the African elephants and the lions.


  • Address: 9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605, United States
  • Price: $17.75 for adults and for kids and seniors aged between 2-14 and 65-75 respectively- $13.75
  • Opening hour: 11:00am – 4:00pm
  • Holidays: November 26 & December 25
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Animals.php

2. Educational Programs

The Oakland Zoo partners with the local schools and colleges to offer science, environmental, and ecological education programs. Their Teen Programs are unique and can offer valuable knowledge and leadership skills. Day camp opportunities at the Zoo can help to learn more about the exotic and local wildlife. They even have an intern program that is designed to help the applicants, who are planning to apply to vet school or looking for a job in this field, to gain experience.


  • Purpose: Education
  • Useful for: Students, Science learners
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Programs.php

3. Adventure Landing

Adventure Landing is an amusement park in the Oakland Zoo, offering a variety of rides for people of all ages. Sky Ride gives a unique opportunity to see a large number of exotic animals, most notably, the African Lions, the Tula Elk, and the Bison. The Outback Express Adventure Train is the only mode to catch a quick look of the Zoo’s Australian-themed exhibit. Tiger Trek is a kiddie roller coaster that gives loads of twists and turns that thrill the kids and adults alike. Yes, these rides do cost extra but offer a complete experience. Tip: Carry a pair of binoculars.


  • Price: Not included in the entry fee
  • Opening hour: 11:00am – 4:00pm
  • Holidays: November 26 & December 25
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Rides_Area.php

4. Wayne & Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo

Source: Mike D

The Oakland Zoo sure has a lot to offer. Previously known as the Children’s Zoo, this kid-friendly area encourages the children to learn more about Wildlife through exploration. They even have a shallow river play area to relax. The Wayne & Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo has a Wildlife Theatre that is used for ZooCamp activities. Since, the targeted audiences are kids; they have spider webs for them to climb on, thus, making the learning process easy and interesting.


  • Price: Included in the entry fee
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Childrens_Zoo.php

5. ZooLights

Source: David Abercrombie

It is an annual Christmas event, nicknamed as the festival of lights for all ages. During this occasion, Oakland’s night sky is lit by countless of LEDs. Taking the Outback Express train is a great way to survey the entire area faster. Members get $1 off the regular ticket prices. Lower entrance is closed during the Zoolight hours hence; the visitors are advised to proceed to the main entrance. Tip: Dress warm, it might get chilly.


  • Price: Adults: $8.00, Children (2-14) and Seniors (65-79): $7.00
    Children under 2 and Adults over 80: FREE
  • Opening hour: 5:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Holiday: December 24 & 25
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Calendar_Item.php?i=589

6. Facility Rentals

Oakland Zoo has breathtaking indoor and outdoor locations. The Snow Building offers an amazing view of the bay which is suitable for holding family get-togethers. There are so many fun packages to choose from. The building must be rented for a minimum of 5 hours. Completed form must be sent, via email, at least, 6 weeks in advance.


  • Name: Snow Building
  • Maximum Capacity: 175 seated/ 250 standing
  • Address: Oakland Zoo – lower entrance, 9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605, United States
  • Email: reservations@oaklandzoo.org
  • Opening hour: Weekdays: 8:00am – 12:30am, Weekends: 10:00am to 12:30am (12:00am youth events).
  • Phone: (510) 632-9525
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Snow_Building.php

7. Veterinary Hospital

 The 17,000 square foot Veterinary Hospital in the Oakland Zoo is probably one of the top ten in the country. It is designed to nurture all current and future animals at the Zoo. Being the biggest wild animal and mammal veterinary service in Northern California, the hospital believes that the education of children must be given the greatest importance. The hospital has large, low windows so that even the smallest kid on tour can peek into the treatment rooms.


  • Price: $10 – $25 per person
  • Days open: Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Opening hour: 10am – 12pm
  • Website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Vet_Hospital.php

The parking fee is $9. It usually takes 3-4 hours for a complete tour. Tip: It’s quite hilly. Wear the most comfortable shoes. If you want to save money, bring packed lunch along with some water.  A hat and a pair of sunglasses are really important as there isn’t much shade. A map of the area is a must. Having a membership can get you discounts.

The Zoo sure has something for everyone. It is clean and less crowded. The staff is polite and great at giving suggestions to make the trip better. To cut a long story short, this is an amazing place to spend an afternoon with your family.

Have a good trip and travel!