Oakland Zoo


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Archived Q&A and Reviews


Nov 2011

Re: Where to take carousel-obsessed toddler?
Oakland zoo! membership is fab for young families! If you can't afford one, ask family to pool their resources and get you a year's membership as a holiday present. It includes several ride tix, guest passes, and FREE PARKING. The love of carousels may wax and wane, but there's so much to learn and do up at the zoo - visit animals, ride the little train, Zoo Lights, bring a friend along with your membership pass - plus that nice walk up and down hills that makes for a long, peaceful night of sleep

Another important aspect is that Oakland Zoo has a reciprocal membership program with many other institutions and activities. http://www.oaklandzoo.org/site/support-the-zoo/membership/membership-benefits

Birthday Party at Oakland Zoo?

May 2007

Has anyone been to or held a birthday party at the Oakland Zoo recently? I am wondering about the sites (where the actual party is held), the different party options (ie, one includes admission, parking, rides and food, the next everything but the food, and the next only the sight reservation and reduced admission - no parking, rides or food). Is the food any good? Can you bring your own cake & ice cream? What happens when you take the afternoon spot, and the zoo closes before the party is over? Thanks for any opinions, good bad or otherwise... planning ahead

we just went to a birthday party at the oakland zoo this weekend. the entirety was in the ride area and we didn't even go into the park. for the first couple of hours the kids all got bracelets to ride all the rides they wanted, and they had a blast. (the employees were particularly great with the party kids) we as parents used some of our own ticket stash to ride along on the rollercoaster (required for kids under 48 inches) and on the train. the party had reserved one of the picnic areas in the back of the ride area and the hosts brought food and cake, and ordered pizza that was delivered. it was fun, but a long afternoon, and i think the zoo kicked us out at five. julia

Hi, we had my daughter's 2nd birthday at the zoo last year. We did the whole package (admission/rides/food). The food is just okay - cardboardy pizza and apple juice but there are a couple of choices. We brought our own cake. Most of the sites are by the rides - you can't reserve a special table, you have to pick from those available. That said, we had a good time and our guests (adults and kids) seemed to as well - most adults without kids haven't been to the zoo in a long time, if ever and enjoyed seeing it and the kids of course loved the zoo. I don't know if I would choose the food option again and I should caution the feel of the party is a little unusual - some people walking around the zoo, some in the rides area, some hanging around the cake - so we had a hard time getting everyone together to sing but I would recommend it, at least once. Our daughter loved it. lara

Feb 2007

Re: When will my baby be interested in the zoo?

I've enjoyed taking my son to the zoo since he was about 5 months old, and he's now almost 17 months. If you're near the Oakland Zoo the membership pays for itself after 4 visits, and even though early on he was in a carrier just looking out and observing, now he enjoys the Children's Zoo, petting zoo, train ride, etc. It's also nice to be able to go for an hour or so rather than several hours...easy to do with the membership. I think he got a lot more interested when he was about 10 months or so. Zoo fan

Go anytime! I took my son to the Oakland Zoo for the first time probably when he was about 6 months old. I remember him laughing at the little squirrel monkeys jumping around. He watched animals sometimes (like the big macaws, monkeys, etc.) and sometimes just watched people, etc. I got a memberhip to the Oakland Zoo and we went often. I'd go with friends when our babies were crawling and they would crawl around on the grass in the Children's zoo area and there are things for kids to climb on. Yes, your children will get more out of the zoo and watching the animals when they are older, but they will get something out of it when going as babies. I'll never forget him laughing at the monkeys. Andi

It will certainly be a while before your baby is able to show any interest, but there's no reason not to start now. It is great exercise, fresh air, and the earlier you start going, the sooner she will become familiar with it and be able to focus on animals. We began taking my son to the Oakland Zoo at a pretty early age, and while we don't go every weekend, he does know the layout of the zoo like his own house and still discovers something new there every time. have fun! zoo mama

We took our 5 month old son in December to the Oakland Zoo. He actually enjoyed the whole zoo from his front-facing Bjorn...especially the frogs at the reptile house and looking at the goats in the ''petting zoo.'' They have a new children's section if you only want to tackle that part of the zoo on your first visit. I don't think he's too young, but obviously he will get more out of his zoo visits as he gets older. Have fun! Went on Baby Zoofari

I got a zoo membership and started taking my daughter to the zoo long before she was able to appreciate it--probably around 3 mos. The question really is, will you enjoy taking her there and being out and about, even if she doesn't notice the animals.

As to when they start appreciating it, I think my daughter started really appreciating it around a year old. I have pictures of her at 13 mos riding the Merry-go-round at the Oakland Zoo. She went through a phase where she was fascinated with sitting on curbs and would stop every 20 feet or so along the elephant exhibit to sit down. None of that has anything to do with animals, particularly. That interest probably started around 1.5-2 years (the same time she wanted me to do a google photo search for ''Monkeys'' on a daily basis). Carrie

Hi - we just took our 20 mo old son to the Oakland Zoo this past weekend and he LOVED it. He was interested at all the big animals (elephants, giraffes) and he had a great time at the Children's Zoo (mostly running around and playing on the animal rock structures) We have taken him before (closer to when he was 1) and he didn't really get it. Julie

our daughter started being noticeably interested around 8 or 9 months and i just got a membership to the oakland zoo so that we can go there often. the sf zoo is wonderful, too! anon

2003 & Earlier

Membership policy for babysitters

July 2003

Am I the only member of the Oakland Zoo who has problems dealing with their extremely rigid membership policies? I purchased a ''family plus'' membership that allowed my babysitter to take my child to the zoo, which was the cost of a family membership plus $20. When I hired a different babysitter for the summer, I was told she couldn't use the first sitter's card. Nor could I pay another $20 for her to be added as a babysitter. Instead I had to buy a totally separate membership (over $40) for the second babysitter. Now, today, my babysitter is on vacation - my 20 year old stepdaughter is babysitting in her place, and my child wants to go to the zoo. The zoo is refusing to let them use any of the memberships - either my family membership or the babysitter membership. My stepdaughter is not a ''family'' member because she's over 18, they say, and she's not an authorized babysitter because she's not one of the two babysitters I've already paid for. If she pays separately for herself, then they will charge her for my son, too, because he can't use the ''family'' membership unless he is accompanied by one of the two adults who are ''on'' the membership!!! The whole thing just seems unbelievable unreasonable to me. Does anyone else have this problem, and if so, how do you deal with it?

Yes, I too find their new policy absurd and in the end counter-productive. As for a solution, complain loudly all the way to the top, citing membership policies of other Bay Area museums (which are far more logical), ask for explanations and let them know how much you disapprove. If enough members do so, and fail to re-new because of it, I like to to think they'll re-consider. Annoyed

Oct 2001

re: fun place to take a visiting two-year-old
Of course there's also the Oakland Zoo which is a perfect size for a small child with tot sized amusement park rides as well. One different suggestion is the Emeryville Marina (go west on Powell cross highway). Gorgeous views, sail boats, picnic areas and green lawn to run around on. No play structures though. Karen

June 2001

re: amusement park for 4-year-old
There were a lot of rides my 2 year old and 4 year old could go on at the Oakland Zoo. I think it's a great place for the under 6 set. Daphne

If you join the Oakland Zoo Club for $45 per year, part of the membership includes free entrance and parking for the year for a family. Its fun and the kids love it! Cindy (1995)

Joining either the Oakland Zoo or the SF Zoo gets you into the other, by the way. The $45 includes admission for 2 adults and kids, the adults do not have to be married, related, etc. Another mother and I share a Zoo membership and it works out quite well. Dianna (1995)