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Rotary Club of Oakland Visits the Oakland Zoo

“Rotary Club of Oakland Visits the Oakland Zoo”

On June 6, 2019, the Rotary Club of Oakland enjoyed a special evening with Rotary member, Dr. Joel Parrott, President/CEO and head veterinarian of the Oakland Zoo.

Riding the gondola over the fields with camels on the left and bison on the right, we enjoyed strikingly beautiful views of the bay in idyllic weather departing atop the hill at the Landing Café. After a wine reception and delicious dinner at the Café, Dr. Parrott presented an update on how his vision for the zoo is coming to fruition.

Part of Dr. Parrott’s goal was to provide large, roaming areas for range animals and more space for the rest of the animals to enjoy foliage similar to their indigenous settings. With the recent expansion of the “California Trail” (native animals like the grizzly, wolves, jaguar and more), the Oakland Zoo is now equivalent in size to the San Diego Zoo.

The Oakland Zoo is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); a non-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. The Zoo website cites Dr. Parrott’s achievements in his 3 decade tenure that “include an over-arching conservation focus for the Zoo, naturalistic and enlarged animal exhibits, increasing the size of the Zoo from 25 to 100 acres, the creation of the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo, a new state-of-the-art Leed-certified veterinary hospital, and the development and reality of the California Trail expansion. “ 1

As part of the Zoo’s preservation and re-population mission, The Oakland Zoo funded transport of a bison herd from Canada to the Blackfeet Indians in Montana. Working with the Blackfeet tribe in Montana, Dr. Parrott is helping to re-populate bison in America. At one time 30 million bison roamed the plains, providing the native population food & clothing, the animal’s spirits revered by the tribes who depended on them. 

After Westward expansion and wars in the 1860’s, the bison herd of 30 million was reduced to 800,000. 

In appreciation of the Zoo’s reputation for re-populating threatened species - the tribe graciously lent the Zoo 14 bison for breeding and return to the Blackfeet Tribe as part of their “Iinnii Initiative”: To restore free-roaming bison to increase the herd living in an open range setting on Blackfeet tribal land, Glacier National Park & Waterton National Park (Rocky Mountains area).

“To the Zoo’s surprise last year, the 14-member herd at Oakland Zoo’s California Trail grew to 24 within weeks of their arrival in April 2018. Many of the females that arrived from the Blackfeet Nation were in fact pregnant, and ten calves were born.

Eleven of the American Bison that arrived at Oakland Zoo in April 2018 were delivered back to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. The offspring were driven back to the Blackfeet tribe in Montana by Dr. Parrott himself, for close veterinarian supervision.” 2

A few other accomplishments towards Dr. Parrott’s vision include:

  • In the past decade alone, through the Zoo’s conservation efforts, the Zoo has invested over $1,000,000 in contributions supporting partnering conservation organizations in saving animal species worldwide. 
  • The threatened condor population was down to only 22 birds until the zoo launched their conservation effort, bringing the population in California up to 400 this year.
  • Growing the number of zoo visitors to 940,000 per year. (That’s more than the Oakland Warriors!). Membership has flourished to reach 120,000
  • The zoo has played a role in re-introduction of wolves to California. The zoo’s mated pair just had 4 wolf pups born this year.

The Oakland Zoo can be contacted online with opportunities for donation, exploration, classes, camps, volunteering, conservation and education at: at: www.OaklandZoo.org., 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605 (510) 632-9525

THANK YOU DR. JOEL PARROT, LANDING CAFÉ, CHANTAL BURNETT AND THE OAKLAND ZOO!

1 & 2  quotes from Oakland Zoo website

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