new zoo Updates
On November 16, the Sacramento Zoological Society and the City of Elk Grove released a series of conceptual drawings illustrating the vision for a state-of-the-art zoological park to serve the greater Sacramento region for generations to come.
The drawings, prepared by SHR Studios and Mangolin Creative, depict a multi-phased, modern zoo featuring expansive savannas where African wildlife will roam, and guests will be immersed in the animals’ surroundings. The drawings also illustrate a variety of possible options for zoo visitors to get up close and learn about threatened species like the white rhinoceros and the Masai giraffe, feed a hippopotamus or flamingo, and even get to stay overnight in a luxury tent-cabin with views of the hippopotamus lake.
Next steps in the process include developing a schematic design, a financing plan, and completing an environmental impact review (EIR). These steps are expected to take a least a year to complete. Formal consideration of the new zoo project by the Elk Grove City Council, and any approvals that would move the project into construction, could occur as soon as late 2023.
New and exciting opportunities for the community to get involved with the project are expected to come in early 2023. Please stay tuned as we continue to take steps toward the creation of a new, modern zoological park for the animals and for generations of zoo-goers from throughout the Greater Sacramento Region and beyond.
For information on how YOU can help to make this once-in-a-lifetime project a reality, please contact the Director of Institutional Advancement & Marketing today. You can also make a donation toward this exciting new project online.
SACRAMENTO ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY AND CITY OF ELK GROVE FORMALIZE ROLES IN NEXT PHASE OF THE PROJECT
(May 26, 2022) — With a continued focus on building a larger, more modern zoological park in the Sacramento region, the City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoological Society (SZS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to define roles and responsibilities for the development of a new zoo in Elk Grove.
“The City and the Sacramento Zoological Society are moving forward together with a clear understanding of what to expect from each other on this project,” said Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen. “The MOU will allow us to take new and exciting steps in the development process that will include the opportunity to more actively engage with the community on this project.”
With the MOU in place, the Sacramento Zoological Society can now begin to advance a capital campaign with potential corporate partners, donors, and community organizations to raise funds for the project.
“Everywhere I go, people ask me, is the new zoo happening? Will the giraffes have more space? Is there a plan to bring back hippos, tigers, and bears? We know that the entire region is excited about the prospect of a new and expanded zoological park and we will need everyone’s assistance to build the new zoo,” said Elizabeth Stallard, President, Sacramento Zoological Society.
The Sacramento Zoological Society has recently retained SHR Studios, a Seattle-based landscape architectural firm that specializes in the development and design of zoological parks, to create the conceptual plan for the zoo in Elk Grove. SHR has completed projects at zoos within the United States such as Houston Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, and the Nashville Zoo. The firm also has international experience designing plans and habitats at locations such as Werribbee Open Range Zoo outside of Melbourne, Australia, the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, Australia and the Auckland Zoo, in New Zealand.
“We look forward to working with the team at SHR Studios to create a plan for a new zoo that will combine the best standards in animal care and guest experience to inspire our visitors to make a difference for wildlife,” states Jason Jacobs, Executive Director, Sacramento Zoological Society. “In addition to the planning of SHR, our dedicated zoo staff have been collaborating with dozens of other Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) accredited intuitions over the past several months to develop best practices for habitat design, space requirements, and species care.”
Staff from Elk Grove and the SZS are developing plans for outreach and engagement events and activities beginning this summer that will provide the public with opportunities to guide and inform the look, feel, and experiences of the Zoo. Online and in person events are being planned. The public is encouraged to register on the project website to receive updates and event announcements at www.elkgrovecity.org/zoo.
“Giving the community a voice in how this project develops remains a top priority for the City and the Zoological Society,” said Elk Grove City Manager, Jason Behrmann. “We want to hear from people of all ages on what amenities and design features are most important to them as we continue through the development process.”
Preparation of a facility master plan, conceptual and schematic design, a financing plan, and completion of an Environmental Impact Report are expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete. Formal consideration of the Zoo project by the SZS Board of Directors and the Elk Grove City Council, and potential approval that would advance the project into construction, could occur in late 2023.
(Sacramento, CA – March 24, 2022) — At their meeting on March 23, the Elk Grove City Council received the feasibility study for a new, regional zoo. They also extended the term of the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement for 60 days and directed their staff to work with the Zoo on a Memorandum of Understanding that would guide the next level of work – development of a master design plan and comprehensive feasibility study. The direction advances the proposed creation of a modern zoological park in Elk Grove to the next phase of development.
“The Society’s partnership with the leadership of Elk Grove creates the possibility that we will be able to give our region – and this state – a new zoo and all of the incredible experiences that come with it,” said Elizabeth Stallard, President of the Sacramento Zoological Society Board of Trustees. “We are thrilled to continue this planning and study process.”
The Council’s direction to continue the process is a strong show of support for the progression of the partnership between the Sacramento Zoological Society and the City of Elk Grove.
In the coming weeks and months, the Society and the City will continue working together to move the project forward. The next step is issuing a request for proposals to several top zoological park design firms; drafting and formalizing an official memorandum of understanding between the parties; and moving toward the creation of a phase one master plan for the new zoo.
“Building a new, regional zoo is a rare and time-intensive process that we welcome. The new zoo will be a series of experiences that benefits our animals and zoo visitors. Our goal is to create a zoo that educates and inspires over a million guests a year to make a difference for wildlife,” said Sacramento Zoo Executive Director, Jason Jacobs.
On March 10, 2022, the City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoological Society released the draft Feasibility Study and Economic Impact Analysis.
A public town hall was held concurrently with the release, providing an overview of these materials and an opportunity to ask questions of the project team. The recording of this meeting is below.
The results of the Feasibility Study and Economic Impact Analysis will be shared with the City Council at their meeting on March 23. The public is invited to attend the Council meeting and provide feedback. The meeting will be in person and streamed online. If the Council desires, the next phase of the effort would be preparation of a formal site master plan and financing plan, which would involve additional public engagement.
The following announcement was made public on September 23, 2021. Details to come as available.
Project would triple zoo size, improve animal care and habitat, enhance visitor experience
(Sacramento, CA – September 23, 2021) — With an eye toward building a larger, more modern zoological park, as well as improving animal care and habitat, the visitor experience, and amenities, the Sacramento Zoological Society and the City of Elk Grove entered into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement today to evaluate relocating the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove.
Over the next six months, the city and the Zoological Society will explore the feasibility of the zoo’s relocation and expansion and negotiate an agreement providing for construction of the new zoo on undeveloped land in south Elk Grove. The Zoological Society and Elk Grove officials say that if discussions are successful and an agreement is reached, the new zoo would be located in South Elk Grove in the Kammerer Urban Design Study Area, part of the city’s Southeast Policy Area. The site is an approximately 60-acre northern portion of a 98-acre parcel located at the northwest intersection of Kammerer Road and Lotz Parkway. The site’s current zoning allows for a zoological park with approval by the city of a use permit. The City of Elk Grove recently secured an option to purchase the property from developer Kamilos Companies, which it would exercise if discussions with the Zoological Society result in an agreement.“Our first priority is always doing what is best for the animals,” said Zoological Society Board President Elizabeth Stallard. “That commitment is driving this opportunity to provide the zoo’s animals with exceptional care in a larger, more modern facility that can better meet their needs and, in turn, inspire and connect more people with the natural world. We are delighted that the Zoological Society and Elk Grove share a vision for what a new zoo could mean for our region,” said Stallard.
The current zoo is 94-years old and landlocked, with only 14.7 acres, and extremely limited parking for guests. After nearly four years of exploring several potential sites in Sacramento without resolution, and as the animal habitats continue to age and the zoo’s accreditation is increasingly at risk, it is critical that the zoo find a new home as soon as possible.
“Elk Grove is well positioned to provide space and support for a new zoo that will be a major attraction for visitors throughout the Sacramento region and northern California,” said Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen. “When we first learned of the zoo’s search for a new home, we knew the project would be a perfect fit and would align with the City’s values. The Elk Grove site will allow the zoo to become one of the country’s world-class zoos while honoring its nearly 100-year history and heritage in the Sacramento region,” Mayor Singh-Allen said.
“When we discovered our mutual interest in exploring a partnership, we recognized it could lead to a new, regional zoological park that could benefit wildlife conservation, our animals, and our guests,” said Stallard. “We know the public is just as excited as we are, and people will be anxious to know more about our plans. Transparency is a key value for both the city and the Society, and we plan to update the public about our discussions as soon as possible and regularly throughout the process.”
On 9/28/21, Nicole Nixon interviews Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, Sacramento Councilmember Katie Valenzuela and President of the Sacramento Zoological Society Board of Trustees, Elizabeth Stallard about the future of the Sacramento Zoo and the potential plans to move it to Elk Grove.
Sacramento Zoo Director, Jason Jacobs, and President of the Sacramento Zoological Society Board of Trustees, Elizabeth Stallard, wrote an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee, commenting on the importance of a new zoo for the region.
Next steps in the process of creating a new zoological park in Elk Grove include developing a schematic design, a financing plan, and completing an environmental impact review (EIR). These steps are expected to take a least a year to complete. Formal consideration of the new zoo project by the Elk Grove City Council, and any approvals that would move the project into construction, could occur as soon as late 2023.
The City of Elk Grove acquired an option to purchase approximately 60 acres of property in south Elk Grove at the northwest intersection of Kammerer Road and Lotz Parkway. As of 2014, the property is zoned a combination of light industrial and office, and a zoo is allowed in those zones with a conditional use permit.
The current zoo is 94 years old and requires extensive renovations to both the habitats and its other facilities to even meet current – let alone future – animal care standards. At 14.7 acres, the zoo’s current footprint is landlocked and unable to provide the necessary space for many of its beloved residents, including giraffes, big cats, and apes. Over the past 30 years, the zoo has lost many of its iconic animal species due to space constraints, including tiger, hippopotamus, and bear. This decline will continue if the zoo stays where it is. The lack of a visitor parking lot at the zoo’s current location also presents an insurmountable obstacle to both expanding access to the zoo and increasing attendance.
The Sacramento Zoological Society’s Board of Trustees is responsible for the care and welfare of the zoo’s animals. Given the challenges that many species face in the wild, zoos have been called upon to take a significant leadership role in saving species from extinction. The current zoo site undermines the Zoo’s ability to meet this important mission. The Board of Trustees also has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the long-term viability of the zoo and ensure that future generations can enjoy this valued regional amenity.
A new zoo will allow our wildlife care professionals to create expansive natural habitats, bolster our conservation programs, and allow the zoo to better serve its educational mission by accommodating more than twice the number of guests per year.
The Sacramento Zoological Society will be embarking on a capital campaign to raise funds to support the creation of a new zoological park in Elk Grove. New and exciting opportunities for the community to get involved with the project are expected to come in early 2023. For information on how YOU can help to make this once-in-a-lifetime project a reality, please contact the Director of Institutional Advancement & Marketing today.
You can also make a donation toward this exciting new project online.
In May of 2019, the City of Sacramento pursued a feasibility study to examine three potential sites – North Natomas Regional Park, Sleep Train Arena, and Bing Maloney Golf Course. It was recently communicated to the Sacramento Zoological Society that none of these sites are viable options for relocation.
Elk Grove is well positioned to provide the physical space and financial support needed to build a new, modern zoological park. Building the zoo in Elk Grove will enable the zoo to remain in, and serve, the Sacramento Region while having the space needed to triple in size and double in visitation. The Society and the City have a shared vision for what the new zoo can be and the impact it can have on the region and the community. They also share values supporting science education, habitat and wildlife conservation, and providing the public parks and recreation spaces. The new zoo will be an important economic development driver and cultural destination and attraction for Elk Grove. The zoo could provide one million annual visitors and as many as 250 jobs and be an anchor in the continued development of the south part of the City.
The Sacramento Zoo is already a regional destination attracting half a million guests from Northern California and Western Nevada. Wherever the zoo is located, it will create memorable wildlife, educational, and family-friendly experiences for our community.
Talks between the City and Society have been recent and rapid. Initial conversations were held in late June. Those evolved to approval of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement and public announcement on September 23, 2021.