Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: Oakland Zoo Centennial

Front gates of Oakland Zoo.

Oakland Zoo Centennial

We are thrilled to announce Oaklandish's 2022 partnership with The Oakland Zoo and the release of new tee designs in celebration of the Zoo's hundredth birthday. The collectible tees celebrate Oakland Zoo's Centennial and pay homage to the city that has been their home for a century. The artwork is inspired by Oakland's street art and some of the Zoo's iconic and inspirational animals.

Oakland Zoo X Oaklandish - Oakland Zoo Centennial & Tee

SHOP NOW > Oakland Zoo Tees

The Oakland Zoo opened on June 6, 1922, in a single building in Snow Park near downtown Oakland. In 1926 it moved to Joaquin Miller Park and then moved again to its current location in 1939 and now occupies 100 acres in the hills of Knowland Park. Today, the Zoo is the fourth largest in California, hosting approximately 900,000 guests annually. 

The Oakland Zoo has evolved to become a pioneer in animal welfare and proudly partners with animal rights organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The Zoo is a leader in animal rescue by providing animal care, rehabilitation, and sanctuary for animals rescued from human-wildlife conflict, the exotic pet trade, or natural disasters. Advanced animal care techniques developed by the Oakland Zoo, such as protected contact management for elephants, are now practiced by zoos worldwide.

The Oakland Zoo is also dedicated to youth education and partners with over 25 conservation organizations globally, who share their commitment to preserving species and their wild habitats. Nik Dehejia, the Oakland Zoo's CEO, says, "Over these many years, there has been so much accomplished in making the Zoo what it is today, and I'm honored to lead it into the next 100 years. So much has evolved in the past century, including the role of zoos and their purpose. The Oakland Zoo is fully committed to doing our part and leading the next generation of conservationists to blaze the trail ahead."

The Oakland Zoo was founded in 1922 by naturalists Henry Snow and his son Sidney Snow who owned and managed it until 1950. Today, the Zoo is managed by the Conservation Society of California, but the Snow family legacy continues through the active support of Nancy Clark, the granddaughter of Sidney Snow, who today sits on the Zoo’s Board of Trustees. Clark says, "As great-granddaughter and granddaughter of the Zoo's founders, Henry and Sidney Snow, and as current Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am thrilled personally and professionally at how much the Oakland Zoo has accomplished in the past 100 years. Our family is certain that Henry and Sidney would be beyond proud at what the Oakland Zoo has become." 

While Oakland Zoo takes pride in its accomplishments, milestones, and animal-focused efforts, much was undertaken in recent decades to evolve and improve the Zoo's facilities, programs, and public reputation. The Zoo was at a low point in 1984 when Dr. Joel Parrott started his tenure as CEO. It was facing bankruptcy, and the Humane Society designated it as one of the ten worst zoos in the U.S.A.

Zoo keepers and the giraffes feeding at the zoo.


When Parrott took the reins, he quickly started turning things around, making significant improvements to animal care, welfare, habitats, and infrastructure. He also launched conservation and education programs. In 1988, The Oakland Zoo was accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Under Dr. Parrott's vision, the Zoo grew from 25 acres to 100 acres and became today's nationally accredited, award-winning, progressive, conservation, and education-focused Zoo.

One of the most significant Oakland Zoo projects in the past decade is the opening of the California Trail, a 45-acre, transformational project that furthered the Zoo's commitments to animal care, education, and conservation. The California Trail spotlights our state's unique environmental history and how we can all help ensure the future of California's wildlife and natural habitat.

‍The Oakland Zoo looks forward to another century of purpose-driven, future-focused work in the pursuit of excellence in animal care and welfare, the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in the wild, and the conservation of threatened species everywhere. The Zoo will continue to expand its natural science education programs to inspire local youth to find solutions to our climate challenge, preserve nature, and understand the importance of wildlife.

The Zoo will celebrate its Centennial with its community and guests throughout 2022 with fun events for the whole family. They are hosting a birthday celebration festival at Snow Park, the Zoo's birthplace in downtown Oakland on June 5th. The Zoo is also excited to reignite popular events, like Brunch for the Wild Bunch, Earth Day, Walk in the Wild, and Boo at the Zoo. For more information on the Oakland Zoo's Centennial Celebration, events, and festivities, please visit the Zoo website.

We hope you'll support the Oakland Zoo and its valuable work in our community by purchasing our Oakland Zoo design. You can buy it online below and in our Oaklandish Downtown and Dimond store locations. A slightly different, co-branded version of the design is available at the gift shop at the Zoo and at the Zoo’s online store.

SHOP NOW > Oakland Zoo Tees

Read more

Amanni, smiling wearing jacket outdoors against a brick wall with mural.

We Are Oaklandish: Amanni King

What is your relationship with Oakland? A: I grew up here, so I’m born and raised! I was born in the north, but I grew up in the west. I grew up near Macarthur, but I don’t really know the street ...

Read more
Maria in a back yard, wearing a black tank top

We Are Oaklandish: Maria Cuatlacuatl

What is your relationship with Oakland? M: My relationship with Oakland is powerful. I first visited Oakland at the age of four. It was the first time I was reunited with my family. I still rememb...

Read more