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Study Names Natomas Regional Park As 'Preferred' Site For Zoo Relocation

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento Zoo is one step closer to finding a new home.

The Sacramento Zoo Feasibility Study found Natomas Regional Park to be the "preferred" site for the zoo to relocate. Sleep Train Arena is also being considered because it meets the city's criteria for the zoo's new home, but the park site has an edge because the city already owns and controls the property.

"It's definitely a conversation the community needs to be a part of," Brandy Tuzon-Boyd, founder of We Want A Zoo, said. "We are very glad to see it circle back around. A lot of things have been put off because of the pandemic."

But the recommendation stirs up mixed feelings for Tuzon-Boyd because she's been fighting to make Sleep Train Arena the zoo's new home. She says the empty arena has "a lot of great potential."

The 98-page report looked at nine potential sites and found Natomas Regional Park has great financial benefits with several existing and planned hotels close by and its proximity to the airport. It's also a potential location for a practice facility for Major League Soccer — all things that could bring a big boost to the local economy.

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Zoo preliminary land use plan for North Natomas Regional Park. credit: Sacramento Zoo Expansion/Relocation Feasibility Study

"It does say that the Sleep Train Arena site provides the greatest financial benefit and potential for funding options and public-private partnerships," Tuzon-Boyd said.

Swipe through renderings of the proposed new zoo on the arena lot.
Source: Sacramento Zoo
Source: Sacramento Zoo
Source: Sacramento Zoo
Source: Sacramento Zoo


But with negotiations stalled with the Sacramento Kings over the arena site, Tuzon-Boyd is hopeful the study will propel talks about funding and help a community treasure grow and thrive.

"It's really important that we don't let things like a global pandemic sideline the future of our community," she said. 

Last fall, the Kings released a 70-page development plan for the 180-acre site, which includes new housing, parks, and commercial space. But nowhere in the document does it mention a zoo.

Swipe through renderings from the Kings' development plan
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(credit: City of Sacramento)
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(credit: City of Sacramento)
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(credit: City of Sacramento)
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(credit: City of Sacramento)

The Kings say they haven't ruled out a zoo or any other attraction, but one big question remains about the financing. Currently, the arena site is being used as a COVID-19 field hospital.

The study will be presented to the city council at its next meeting on December 8. The We Want A Zoo group plans to attend virtually so the council can hear community feedback.

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