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Walking the Talk
Corporations Expected to Contribute to Social, Environmental Health of Communities

I recently moderated an enlightening panel discussion — between Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman, San Francisco Travel President & CEO Joe D’Alessandro, and Oakland Zoo President & CEO Dr. Joel Parrott — on why the new California Trail development, an $80 million expansion project at the Oakland Zoo, matters to the people who live, play, work and visit the Bay Area.

The California Trail exhibit heralds an exciting new commitment by the Oakland Zoo to enrich the lives of people and wildlife in the Bay Area by connecting people with nature through its extensive public engagement, education and wildlife-conservation efforts. The event, hosted by the Bay Area Council, introduced guests to the positive impact of this addition on the Bay Area landscape from a social, environmental and economic perspective; and the exciting, purpose-driven collaboration opportunity that it presents to corporations committed to supporting a thriving Bay Area.

Results from a recent survey of the Zoo’s 70,000+ members were also shared publicly at the event; the survey revealed that 93 percent of respondents believe that Bay Area corporations should stand for more than just making a profit and have a responsibility to support local organizations addressing social, environmental or economic issues. 77 percent indicated that they would be more likely to buy a sponsor’s products or services over that sponsor’s competitors’.

The education and conservation focus of the Zoo were a major topic of discussion amongst the panelists. The Oakland Zoo already positively impacts the lives of more than 60,000 young people across the Bay Area each year through a range of STEM-related education programs. California Trail will double the size of the Zoo, making it one of the three largest zoos in California, and provide an opportunity to extend the reach of these programs with a focus on increasing access to more Title 1 schools in the region.

Mayor Schaaf stressed the importance of these education programs to Oakland, as well as the opportunity for families in the Bay Area to have a safe and natural place that they can visit to connect with each other and with nature: “I cannot overstate the degree to which the Oakland Zoo enhances the quality of life for people in Oakland and the greater Bay Area,” she said. “I am tremendously excited about the many new possibilities that California Trail opens up for the diverse communities in our region, particularly the young people who will benefit from this opportunity to learn and explore their environment in new and unique ways for years to come.”

“The California Trail Project is one of the most exciting additions to come to Oakland and the Bay Area in many years. As a Trustee of Oakland Zoo, I couldn’t be prouder of the incredible efforts of Dr. Joel Parrott, who with the Oakland Zoo team, the Board of Trustees, and many generous people and foundations, have made this incredible project possible,” Wunderman said. “It’s now time for Bay Area corporations committed to a thriving Bay Area to step up and embrace the opportunity to partner with the Oakland Zoo team in their important work to enrich life for people and wildlife in the region. People expect this level of support, which will not only be good for the Bay Area but also for the corporations themselves as they go about doing good and doing well.”

The California Trail is expected to add significantly to the Bay Area’s variety of world-class attractions, augmenting international and domestic tourism, important economic drivers for the region. The project opens in two phases: The first urban gondola ride in Northern California, offering sweeping views of the Bay Area, and the Landing Café opened in June; animal exhibits featuring eight iconic California species — grizzly bear, black bear, California condor, jaguar, mountain lion, bison, bald eagle, and grey wolf — will open in summer 2018.

Oakland Zoo will continue to increase its focus on conservation efforts working in partnership with multiple community organizations across the world and in Northern California.

“Over and above our ongoing education and conservation efforts, we’ve committed to allocate 25 percent of every sponsorship dollar that we raise through our corporate partnership program to programs educating people on the value of nature and supporting the conservation of 10 iconic California species in the wild,” Parrott said.

Join us at the Oakland Zoo on Thursday, October 5, for a second panel discussion featuring representatives from Adobe, IBM, Intel, Levi Strauss, LinkedIn and Uber discussing the Hidden Value of CSR. Corporations interested in exploring partnership opportunities associated with the California Trail and Oakland Zoo can contact [email protected].


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