22 Sep 2023 World leisure: news, training & property
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Attractions Management
2023 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Elizabeth Stallard & Jason Jacobs


Elizabeth Stallard & Jason Jacobs

You might see vets performing surgery on an animal or talk with one of our zoological care specialists as they prepare your favourite animal’s food

Facilities could include an event space set in an ‘African savannah’ Photo: Mangolin Creative
New renderings show a modern zoo with more space for the animals Photo: Mangolin Creative
The renderings show luxury cabin-style tents overlooking Hippo River Photo: Mangolin Creative
The new attraction will allow visitors to get up close to the animals Photo: Mangolin Creative
Photo: Mangolin Creative
While the current zoo is popular, it is too small and needs renovations Photo: Sacramento Zoo

The Sacramento Zoological Society and the City of Elk Grove have released renderings showing the vision for a new ‘state-of-the-art’ zoological park that’s planned for Elk Grove, California.

The designs – by SHR Studios and Mangolin Creative – show a multi-phased, modern zoo featuring expansive savannahs 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 such as the white rhinoceros and the Masai giraffe, feed a hippo or flamingo, and stay overnight in a luxury tent-cabin with views of the hippo lake.

Sacramento Zoo opened in 1927. Its current 14.7 acre site is too small for many of its animals, and it has lost many species over the past 30 years due to space constraints. Its current habitats and facilities also need major renovations and there is no visitor parking. In 2018, the Sacramento Zoological Society’s board of trustees voted unanimously to open a new zoo site, and in 2021, the Sacramento Zoo Society and City of Elk Grove entered into an agreement to relocate and expand the zoo in Elk Grove.

Next steps in the process include developing a schematic design, a financing plan, and completing an environmental impact review (EIR).

“The new zoo will be a destination amenity for all of Northern California and beyond,” says Sacramento Zoological Society board president Elizabeth Stallard.

“The new zoo is being designed to host more than a million visitors per year. The larger site will provide greater accessibility for visitors with its dedicated parking and future plans for mass transit. Of course, a larger site will also allow the Society to do even more to support its important mission, by providing more educational partnerships, greater support for conservation programmes, and larger and better spaces for the animals.”

“The new zoo will be designed to house populations of rare and endangered species,” said Sacramento Zoo executive director Jason Jacobs.

“Just as importantly, we’d tell the story of these species and encourage our guests to take action. The new site will serve as a head-start programme for propagation of local species, such as the western pond turtle and giant garter snake.

“The zoo serves as the studbook manger for thick-billed parrot, the only existing species of parrot native to the US that numbers less than 2,000 individuals in the wild. Sacramento Zoo cares for the largest flock of these birds under human care and has hatched nearly 100 from its flock. A series of aviaries for these parrots could tell the story of managing genetic populations of rare animals.”

On the subject of the new animal habitats and the visitor experience, Jacobs told Attractions Management: “Experience is impact. We’re just starting the schematic phase of design and throughout the whole process we want the animals to be the stars of the new zoo.

“Close encounters with animals are factored into the guest experience – these may include opportunities to safely interact with species such as giraffe, rhinoceros, and hippos.

“From a science perspective, Sacramento Zoo is proud of its long history of working with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. In the new zoo you might see these vets performing surgery on an animal or talk with one of the team as they prepare the food for a favourite animal in the nutrition centre.

“We’re also looking at the potential of overnight lodging that overlooks habitats for species such as rhinoceros, hippopotamus, and lion.

Restaurants and snack bars will be located within habitats, and experiences could include a restaurant/events venue that overlooks an African savannah for giraffe, zebra, and antelope.

“Another restaurant is nestled into a hillside that’s home to a troop of gelada monkeys, a species of primate that’s only found within the highlands of Ethiopia.

Photo: Sacramento Zoo

Elizabeth Stallard, president, Sacramento Zoological Society

Photo: Sacramento Zoo

Jason Jacobs, executive director, Sacramento Zoo

Sacramento Zoo and conservation

“The zoo’s mission of conservation extends far beyond the borders of California – it dedicates a portion of its admission fees to help save animals in the wild,” said Jason Jacobs. “We’ve worked with the Wild Nature Institute over the past decade to monitor giraffe populations within Tanzania, and the new zoo is being designed to care for both a breeding herd and bachelor (all male) herd of Masai giraffe.

“Another species that would be featured prominently is the okapi – the zoo supports the Okapi Conservation Project which saves this species within the Democratic Republic of Congo. The planned zoo habitat would include interpretive graphics linking the zoo’s support to the care of the okapi in the wild while featuring African birds and primates.”

“The zoo is also involved with onsite projects to support Western pond turtles – the only aquatic turtle native to California – and the endangered thick-billed parrot.”

Originally published in Attractions Management 2023 issue 1

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