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Rebecca Solnit (San Francisco) collaborating with the East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo)

Award: $35,000 Literary Arts Grant awarded in 2008

Publication date: 2010

Writer Rebecca Solnit collaborated with The Oakland Zoo to produce a series of literary descriptions of California native wildlife that have been published in A California Bestiary, a book by Solnit, illustrated by Mona Caron, and published by Heyday Books. Under development at the time of this project, the California! Project is a themed exhibition focusing on native animals–with five new  major animal exhibit zones, an education center, and other features.

Through this project, Rebecca Solnit became the zoo’s resident writer, interacting with zookeepers and focusing her attention on 12 of the animals that will reside in the California! Project. From this research, she produced “a contemporary bestiary,” a series of short, educational essays. Inspired by the New York City Zoo’s use of poetry in its signage, Solnit’s text has been made available to the Zoo’s exhibit designers for a variety of display purposes.

Rebecca Solnit is an award winning California author whose prolific volumes have focused on topics ranging from the melting of the polar ice caps to the history of Eadweard Muybridge and the technological West.

Founded in 1922, the Oakland Zoo is home to over 650 animals representing 120 different species living in lush, naturalistic settings. It reaches 500,000 visitors annually.