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Letter from the Director: What a New Zoo Can Do for Animals and Our Community

Categories: Director's Den, Support the Zoo

Dear Zoo Friends,

There is so much more to a modern zoo than you might expect, including what a new zoo would mean for wildlife, education, nature, Northern California, and you.

Sacramento Zoo’s mission is multi-faceted, and we are among accredited zoos and aquariums that are essential to the survival of animal species that face challenges in the wild. Well-known species, including lion, tiger, giraffe, and rhinoceros are facing enormous pressure from habitat loss and poaching. Just as important, lesser-known species are in critical need of our help, too.

thick-billed parrot is one of the species that would benefit from a new sacramento zooThose species include the thick-billed parrot, the only remaining species of parrot native to the United States. Sacramento Zoo houses the largest flock of these colorful birds under human care. We are a leader in the husbandry and successful breeding of this endangered species. Another zoo conservation program supports the Western pond turtle, a terrapin native to our area that are being aggressively outcompeted by the invasive red-eared slider. Our zoo’s animal experts work to successfully hatch Western pond turtles in a head-start program for potential release of this species into the wild. Our team also supports protection of the shy okapi, a rare and endangered giraffe-like, chocolate colored mammal found only in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

Zoo conservation programs work because of public support by people who care about animals and nature. For example, zoos helped bring several species back from the brink of extinction including the California condor and the black-footed ferret. Zoos helped in reintroduction programs that played a key role in saving the American bison that once numbered in the millions, before nearly going extinct. And our work is only increasing in urgency.

zig zag the cheetah taking a cat napSaving animals is core to our mission, but so is the Zoo’s impact on people. Zoos serve as important educational and recreational institutions for visitors of all ages. We take responsibility for helping foster a meaningful and inspiring connection with animals and empathy and care in people, including the Sac Zoo’s more than half a million guests annually. For many visitors, especially children, their visit to the zoo is an introduction to the wonderful wildlife with which we share our planet. Zoos provide safe, outdoor educational activities for the entire family and build an appreciation for nature, including the diverse wildlife that lives in Northern California. The popularity of zoos nationwide is quite impressive, with more people visiting accredited zoos within the U.S. than the combined attendance of all professional sporting events.

The challenge to meet the needs of all animals in our Zoo and to fulfill our mission of engaging people to help save wildlife requires more than our current, and aged, 14.7-acre zoo. Sacramento Zoo footprint does not allow for adequate space for the animals in our care. Our region needs a new, expanded zoo that can increase its capacity to care for populations of rare species such as rhinoceros and many others, as well as provide a truly unique and wonderful educational experience for visitors for the next 100 years.

jason jacobs, sac zoo director, with mo the okapiPlease stay tuned. Over the next few months, you will hear more about the proposed new zoo in Elk Grove as we explore plans for a new zoological park that will give our animals and our community the zoo they deserve.

jason jacobs signature

Jason Jacobs, Sacramento Zoo Director 


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