A New Zoo

Factsheets: Economic Impact, Facts and Figures, and Financing Plan

The City of Elk Grove and the Sacramento Zoological Society are exploring relocating and expanding the zoo in Elk Grove. The organizations have committed to negotiating an agreement that could provide for construction of a new zoo on undeveloped land in south Elk Grove.

The process to study, design, finance, and construct a new zoo is a multi-year/multi-phase effort.  In 2022, a Feasibility Study was prepared and presented to the City Council, who then directed planning and design for the project.  From summer 2022 through fall 2023, the design was prepared and refined.  An Environmental Impact Report has also been prepared and released for public comment.  Later in 2024, the City Council will consider the project and, potentially, complete the project approvals (called Entitlements).  Once the project is approved it can move forward into final design and construction. 

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Zoo Master Plan Schedule

  • Spring 2022
  • 1.0 Conceptual Master Plan
    Summer 2022
  • 2.0 Schematic Plan
    Fall 2022-Fall 2023
  • 3.0 Infrastructure Master Plan
    Winter 2023
  • 4.0 Plan of Finance
    Winter 2023 - Winter 2024
  • 5.0 CEQA Review
    Spring 2023 - Spring 2024
  • 6.0 Project Approvals
    Spring 2024
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Current Phase

6.0 Project Approvals

The proposed project is in its final stage of review and consideration.  The Planning Commission reviewed the meeting on April 4, 2024, and voted 5-0 to recommend approval to the City Council.  The City Council will consider the project at its May 8 meeting.  A public comment opportunity will be available during the meeting.

City Council Meeting

When: Wednesday, May 8, 2024, beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Where: City Council Chambers, 8400 Laguna Palms Way, Elk Grove

Materials available online

Virtual Public Meeting: A New Zoo - Overview of the Project and Financing Plan

On April 17, 2024, the City hosted an online meeting to present an overview of the proposed New Zoo Project and the proposed Financing Plan.  A recording of the meeting is available below.

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 agreed to study the relocation 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 65 acres and would be built in multiple phases over several years. The shared goal is to build a world-class zoo and cultural attraction for the entire region.

Where would the Zoo be located?

The project would be located on approximately 100 acres of property in south Elk Grove at the northwest intersection of Kammerer Road and Lotz Parkway.

What would the new Zoo look like?

The new zoo would be designed around three key zones – Africa, California, and Australasia. Each zone would present a range of animals from those areas. The design also includes services and amenities for visitors, including extensive parking, multiple restaurants, an events venue, and opportunities for unique animal encounters and potential overnight accommodations and “safari experiences.”

Details of the design are available on the City’s website.

When would the new Zoo open?

An opening date of the new Zoo has not been set and is dependent on several factors, including completing construction plans, construction time, and, most importantly, securing community partnership funding. Presuming that these partnerships can be realized, the soonest the City and Society expect to open the complete zoo is 2029. The City and Society are exploring options for a preview phase in 2027, but no final decisions have been made.

How much would the new Zoo cost?

The cost for constructing Phase 1A/1B of the Zoo is broken down into two pieces:

  • Off-Site costs, which include public roadways, water and sewer infrastructure, and off-site stormwater detention and associated drainage infrastructure, and dry utilities, are estimated at $44 million. These are costs that would be necessary to develop the property with any use.
  • On-Site costs are for the Zoo itself and includes the animal habitats and holding and care areas, guest facilities and amenities, office and storage spaces, parking facilities, and other costs including public art and development impact fees. These costs are estimated at $258 million, of which $226 million is for the zoo facilities.
Who will pay for constructing the new Zoo?

Funding of a new zoo is expected to be a partnership. As detailed in the Financing Plan, funding for the development (including on and off-site improvements) would come from the following sources:

  • Development impact fees: $14.8 million
  • City source funds (“Pay-Go”, cash on hand from five sources): $93 million
  • Community Partnerships: $80 million
  • Bond Financing: $114.5 million

When specifically looking at the City’s share, exclusive of development impact fees, the City contributes 57% towards the overall costs. This includes the City Pay-Go and 68% of the total Bond proceeds. This percentage is lower (39%) when excluding funding identified in the Pay-Go and Bond Financing sections which originates from the City’s agreement with Wilton Rancheria for the Sky River Casino project.

Will taxes for Elk Grove residents and businesses be increased, or a new tax created, to pay for the Zoo?

No, taxes will not be increased to pay for either the construction or operation of the proposed New Zoo.  The Financing Plan identifies a range of existing impact fees, existing City funds, bonds, and regional partnership funding to finance the construction of the Zoo. Operations would be paid directly and solely by the Zoological Society from their revenues.  Additionally, Measure E is not a funding source for the Zoo.  

Is a subsidy from the City required to operate the Zoo?

No, the Zoo does not require a subsidy from the City to operate. The original 2022 Feasibility Study and the 2024 Business Plan identify that the Zoo is able to self-sustain their operations. The exiting Sacramento Zoo in Land Park operates without a subsidy from the City of Sacramento and the City of Elk Grove expects that arrangement to continue.

Why does the Zoo need to relocate?

The current zoo is 97 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.

How long has the City and Society been discussing this project?

Talks between the City and Society started in late June 2021. Those evolved to approval of the Exclusive Negotiating Agreement and public announcement on September 23, 2021. The feasibility study was prepared and reviewed by the City and Society in March 2022. Based upon the findings, the parties entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2022 to continue exploring the design and financing for a new zoo. From summer 2022 through late 2023, the City and Society worked together to conduct public outreach and develop a master design plan. Environmental review has also been completed and a Financing Plan prepared.

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 communicated to the Sacramento Zoological Society that none of these sites are viable options for relocation. This effort follows other expansion and relocation studies prepared for the zoo in the years prior.

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 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.

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.

What happens next?

The Planning Commission will review the project materials at its regular meeting on April 4, 2024 and consider a recommendation to the City Council. The City Council will consider the project as soon as early May 2024. The Council could approve the project at that time, as which point the City and Society would proceed into the next round of design work and pursuing partnership funding as provided in the Financing Plan.


If discussions are successful and an agreement is reached, the new zoo could be located in the Kammerer Urban Design Study Area. The site is an approximately 65-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.

Zoo Location Map

Zoo Design Update

The Sacramento Zoological Society has hired a design firm (SHR Studios) that specializes in zoological parks to prepare the Master Plan for the Zoo.  While portions of the design will be informed by the design team’s expertise and the operations parameters for the facility as described in the Feasibility Study, there are a variety of components that will be informed by public feedback.  In summer 2022 the City, the Society, and SHR held several public engagement events and activities, culminating in a Town Hall event in August 2022.  Input from these events was incorporated into the Conceptual Plan, which was presented in November 2022.

Following the Conceptual Design work, the team has moved into Schematic Design, which is a higher level of design detail.  On October 25, 2023, City staff presented an update on the design work to the City Council.  A Community Open House Event was held on November 4, 2023, where the latest design plans were on display.  These materials are available below.

Materials from the November 2023 Open House

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Environmental Review

Before approvals of the Zoo can be considered by the City, an Environmental Impact Report, or EIR, must be prepared. The EIR analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the Zoo. Key steps or milestones in the EIR process include:

  • A Notice or Preparation, which informs the public and other public agencies that an EIR is being prepared for the project.  The City released the Notice of Preparation on November 18, 2022.
  • A Draft EIR, which is a complete document that includes all the analysis, identifies potentially significant effects of the project, and proposes mitigation measures to mitigate potential impacts.  The Draft EIR is made available to the public and other public agencies so that they may provide comments on the analysis.
  • A Final EIR, which incorporates the Draft EIR, includes all the comments received on the Draft EIR and responses from the City on those comments.  It also includes any corrections or revisions to the Draft EIR.  Together, the Draft and Final EIRs make up the whole of the EIR.

On January 5, 2024, the City released the Draft EIR for the New Zoo Project.  Comments on the Draft EIR were due by February 20, 2024.  Response to comments were prepared and are included in the Final EIR, which is available on this webpage.

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Environmental Impact Report

Draft EIR by Sections:

Final EIR by Sections:

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2022 Feasibility Study

On March 10, 2022, the City and the Zoological Society released a Feasibility Study and Economic Impact Analysis (provided below). 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 were shared with the City Council on March 23, 2022. The Council directed the continued planning and design for the facility.  A Memorandum of Understanding, which outlines the next steps in the process and the roles of the parties, was entered into on May 25, 2022.

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If you have questions, please contact:

Project Contact

Christopher Jordan
Director of Strategic Planning and Innovation, City of Elk Grove
Email: zoo@elkgrovecity.org

Media Contact

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