The 99-year-old Oakland Zoo, just 7 miles from Hayward, reopened to the public on Feb. 3 to the relief of its many fans. During the health care crisis, the Conservation Society of California, the nonprofit that operates the zoo, had to deal with the same challenges as other organizations, including a fiscal crunch last summer that threatened its future and the welfare of its 850 native and exotic animals.
Crowds are back, and at its May 17 meeting new Oakland Zoo CEO Nik Dehejia will address members of the Hayward Rotary Club to discuss the importance of the zoo to the region and how it kept faith with supporters during the months it was closed to the public. Dehejia is a 14-year veteran of the zoo, named CEO earlier this year.
The zoo is comprised of several regions: Adventure Landing, African Savanna, African Veldt, Flamingo Plaza, Tropical Rain Forest, Children's Zoo, Wild Australia, and California Trail. Animals live in naturalistic habitats and include chimpanzees, bears, elephants, lions, giraffes and more. 
Dehejia oversaw the development of the California Trail, a $71-million-dollar project that included a veterinary hospital that opened in 2012, a biodiversity center and the California Trail that is accessed by a gondola, taking visitors where the vistas include bison, grizzly bears and a panoramic view of San Francisco Bay.
A 24-year resident of the Bay Area, Dehejia holds an MBA from UC Berkeley and has been a board member for Heyday Books, Community Initiatives, and Slide Ranch. Before coming to the Oakland Zoo, Nik worked in international policy at the World Resources Institute and World Bank, in corporate responsibility at Business for Social Responsibility, and in a more traditionally commercial role at Levi Strauss & Co.