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Latest Agreement Advances Elk Grove Zoo Project, Design Firm Selected

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.

 


Elk Grove City Council Supports New Zoo Plan

(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.

For more information about the proposed zoo plan, visit the Zoo’s and City’s websites and watch for updates.


Feasibility Study, Town Hall, and Next Steps

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.


Relocation Update

The following announcement was made public on September 23, 2021. Details to come as available.


Sacramento Zoological Society and City of Elk Grove Enter into Exclusive Negotiating Agreement to evaluate relocating Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove

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.”

Proposed relocation in Elk Grove
This is the proposed site for relocating the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove.

 

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