Oakland Zoo (Oakland, CA)

California Trail is Oakland Zoo’s newest and most ambitious exhibit, with a gondola serving an entire new area of the zoo’s campus. This zoo expansion is anchored by a central learning and discovery center called the California Conservation Habitarium, designed around immersive experiences of the state’s four primary habitats: mountain, desert, redwood forest, and estuary.

Visitors are invited to explore California’s diverse habitats by stepping into the work and world of conservation researchers. Engaging exhibits portray a range of researchers and their tools, work conditions, studies, and research products—and invite visitors to “participate” in the research themselves through various interactives. A central aspect of the experience is a call for visitors to join the growing community of people taking action for California’s wildlife. On-site opportunities to take action include the Hero selfie wall, a co-created Action Tree to which visitors attach leaf-shaped pledges, and an array of local eco-heroes featured to inspire others.

ECOS worked for three years on all phases of the project: master planning, conceptual design, schematic design/design development, and fabrication and installation. Special features of the Habitarium by ECOS include the integration of exhibit elements into custom rockwork, creation of custom illustrations for immersive habitat scenes using digital tools, and theming of a field researcher’s tent.

Note: A second major element of California Trail is a boardwalk that connects eight exhibits featuring charismatic native California species. ECOS also completed all phases of work for the interpretive exhibits and visitor experience elements for the Boardwalk.

The exhibit looks absolutely wonderful. I’m so happy with how this all turned out. I love the changes you made with the interactive games, I love the photos you chose — I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the hours and hours of work you have all have put into this. I feel very blessed and proud to be working with such a brilliant group of folks.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Bo De Long, PhD
Managing Director, Education Oakland Zoo Maddie's Center for Science & Environmental Education