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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Sacramento Zoo getting closer to possible Elk Grove relocation

Photo Credit: James Fife / Taken May 2020

The Sacramento Zoo is closer to finding a new home after the Elk Grove City Council on March 23 directed its staff to move forward on next steps, which include the development of a master design plan and comprehensive feasibility study.

Jason Jacobs, director and CEO of the Sacramento Zoo, and his team presented their vision for a larger, more capable zoo to the city council during the recent meeting, which came two weeks after a public town hall meeting on March 10 where the organization displayed the potential economic impact and feasibility of the new zoo. 

“We want to create meaningful impactful experiences for our guests that inspire and educate [them] to take action for conservation and to grow stewardship of the natural world,” Jacobs said during the council meeting. “If we didn’t have zoos today, we would need to invent zoos.”

Jacobs’ vision for the new location includes a 60-acre zoo with a 10 acre parking lot, a large increase from the current 14.7 acres at its current Land Park location in Sacramento. The Sacramento Zoo anticipates an annual attendance upward of 1 million visitors in conjunction with 197 full-time employees, over double the 86 employed at the current location.

“Our goal is to build the best zoo in Northern California,” Jacobs said.

City council thoughts

The five council members, including Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, unanimously decided to grant the Sacramento Zoological Society a memorandum of understanding as well as an extension to the exclusive negotiating agreement regarding the prospective zoo. This serves to continue the dialogue between both parties without yet committing to any construction or financing.

“It is an important first step,” Mayor Singh-Allen said. “The importance of transparency and community engagement is so critical.”

The city council reactions to the presentation were positive as the council members spoke at length about their anticipation. Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren Suen said, “This is exciting. I can say I hope that we can make this happen.”

The council raised concerns regarding the high costs of the project, expected to cost between $266 million and $364 million. The council members expressed the level of severity they give to matters of great cost due to how taking them on would impact the taxpayers that they represent.

“The crux of what I want to talk about is transparency in this process. Transparency in the feasibility. Transparency in the numbers that we’re looking at.” Councilmember Pat Hume said. 

Next steps in the process

With the MOU granted and negotiations extended, the potential of a zoo in Elk Grove lives on. The acknowledgement of the feasibility of the proposal and lengthening of negotiations are an essential step in bringing their goal to fruition. 

“You have the blessings from the council to move forward with that,” Singh-Allen said in regard to the zoo’s request for the memorandum.

Next, preparation of a formal plan for the overall site and its financing is to be created with public input being considered throughout the process. “We will be securing the services of an architectural firm that specializes in the design and master plans of zoological parks,” Jacobs said. The public is able to track the zoological society’s progress via the website or the Elk Grove city website.

“The better the zoo and the more impactful experiences you can create, the more engaging and educational opportunities there are for the public,” Jacobs said.

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