A New Zoo

On September 23, 2021, the City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoological Society announced they would spend the next six months exploring the feasibility of relocating and expanding the zoo in Elk Grove. Under the terms of an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement, both organizations have committed to negotiating an agreement that could provide for construction of a new zoo on undeveloped land in south Elk Grove.


Location

If discussions are successful and an agreement is reached, the new zoo would be located 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 has 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.

Zoo Location Map

Next Steps

With the signed agreement, the city and the Society will take that next six months to study the potential site and develop preliminary plans and a budget for the project. If successful, at the end of the study period, the city and the Society will enter into an agreement whereby they will partner to construct the new zoo. At that time, the Society will make an application to the City for its project approvals, which would include public outreach and appropriate environmental review.

During the process, the city and zoo plan to host events so that community members can learn more about the project and provide input. The exclusive negotiating agreement lasts for six months, but it can be extended further if more time is needed to complete the feasibility study. The city’s option agreement for the land is for 12 months and the city would need to purchase the land for the zoo within those 12 months.

Be sure to sign up for updates above and if you have comments in the meantime, send us an e-mail at zoo@elkgrovecity.org.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is happening with the City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoo?
The City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoological Society have agreed to begin studying and analyzing the feasibility of relocating the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove, where the zoo could significantly expand to benefit the care of the animals and improve the guest experience. The new zoo would be approximately 60 acres and would likely be built in three phases over several years. The shared goal is to build a world-class zoo and cultural attraction for the entire region.
What is the agreement with the City of Elk Grove and the Zoo?
The Sacramento Zoological Society’s agreement with the City of Elk Grove, called an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement, memorializes our commitment to explore whether there is the potential for a relocated and expanded zoo within the City of Elk Grove. The agreement was signed on September 23, 2021. Over the next six months, both the Society and the City of Elk Grove will evaluate the feasibility of the project and may ultimately enter into a binding agreement to relocate the zoo to Elk Grove.
Where would the Zoo be located?
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 tentative plan is the zoo would be located there, pending the results of the feasibility analysis.
What are the primary reasons the Zoo is looking to relocate?

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 their wildlife care professionals to create expansive natural habitats, bolster conservation programs, and allow the zoo to better serve its educational mission by accommodating more than twice the number of guests per year.

What about the City of Sacramento relocation study?
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.
Why is Elk Grove the right place for the new zoo?
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.
How will relocation affect zoo attendance and operations?
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.
How long has the City and Society been discussing this agreement?
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.
Will the city have to help pay for the new zoo?
Funding of a new zoo is expected to be a partnership. Both groups will take the next six months to create a budget. As part of that partnership, the City has secured an option to purchase the property being considered for the zoo. The cost for that land is estimated between $6.6 and $6.9 Million. The City has committed in principle to provide the land at the City’s costs. It is likely that additional City funding for construction and operation of the zoo will be necessary.
Does the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement mean the zoo cannot negotiate with any other city during the period of the agreement?
Yes. Both organizations have entered into an agreement to work exclusively with each other to plan for the zoo’s relocation to Elk Grove. The agreement states that the zoo can’t work with any other cities in Sacramento, San Joaquin, Yolo, El Dorado, or Placer counties through March 31, 2022, or longer if the agreement were to be extended, and the City can’t work with any other zoo operators during that time.
What happens next?

With the signed agreement, the city and the Society will take that next six months to study the potential site and develop preliminary plans and a budget for the project. If successful, at the end of the study period the city and the Society will enter into an agreement whereby they will partner to construct the new zoo. At that time, the Society will make an application to the City for its project approvals, which would include public outreach and appropriate environmental review.

During the process, the city and zoo plan to host public events so that community members can learn more about the project and provide input. The exclusive negotiating agreement lasts for six months, but it can be extended further if more time is needed to complete the feasibility study. The city’s option agreement is for 12 months and the city would need to purchase the land for the zoo within those 12 months.

How can I weigh in?
The City and Zoological Society are committed to public transparency and plan to provide the public regular updates throughout the process. There will be multiple opportunities for residents, donors, members, and visitors to comment about the project, and more details of those opportunities will be forthcoming as the project progresses. If you have questions or comments in the meantime, e-mail the City at zoo@elkgrovecity.org.

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If you have questions, please contact:

Project Contact:

Darrell Doan
Economic Development Director, City of Elk Grove
Phone: (916) 627-3338
Email: zoo@elkgrovecity.org

Media Contact:

Kristyn Laurence
Public Affairs, City of Elk Grove
Phone: (916) 478-2206
Email: klaurence@elkgrovecity.org

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