Sacramento Zoo

Coordinates: 38°32′23″N 121°30′14″W / 38.539605°N 121.504026°W / 38.539605; -121.504026
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Sacramento Zoo
38°32′23″N 121°30′14″W / 38.539605°N 121.504026°W / 38.539605; -121.504026
Date openedJune 2, 1927[1]
LocationWilliam Land Park, Sacramento, California, United States
Land area14.3 acres (5.8 ha)
No. of animalsJust over 500(2012)

The Sacramento Zoo is a zoo located in William Land Park in Sacramento, California. It opened on June 2, 1927, with 40 animals. At that time, it occupied 4.2 acres (1.7 ha), which remained the case until the early 1960s when the zoo expanded to its current 14.3 acres (5.8 ha). As of December 2012, the zoo had just over 500 animals on site.


The zoo opened as the 4.2-acre (1.7 ha) "William Land Park Zoo" on June 2, 1927, with 40 animals brought together from various local parks, including monkeys, raccoons, birds, and deer.[1]

In 1948, the Sacramento Union newspaper sponsored a drive to raise money to buy the zoo an elephant. In the fall of 1949, SUE (the "Sacramento Union Elephant"), so named by local teenage sisters Jacklyn and Carolyn Bolton via a contest sponsored by the Union, arrived at the zoo, much to the delight of area visitors. In 1955, the zoo bought "Winky", Sue's companion.[1]

The Sacramento Zoological Society formed in 1958 to support and raise funds for the zoo as city funding began to dwindle. The year 1958 also brought along the start of the zoo's educational programming, at that time, one of only nine zoos in the United States to have such a program. In 1997, the society took over day-to-day operation of the zoo.[1]

The zoo was expanded to 14.3 acres (5.8 ha) in the early 1960s, with new habitats built in most areas of the zoo. In 1965, the zoo received its first grizzly bear and two orangutans, and began charging 25 cents for admission. The current name was adopted in 1970, along with the completion of the reptile house and the creation of a docent program.[1]

On April 6, 2007, an exhibit featuring six penguins opened to the public. The day prior, Mayor Heather Fargo and other guests were dressed in black and white to greet the new arrivals, who were on loan for the "one year bash".[3]

In 2009, the zoo started construction on a new barn and yard for their giraffes. The old wooden barn was demolished and replaced with a much more spacious, heated barn. The new barn includes a breeding facility with many large stalls for current giraffes and their calves. The Tall Wonders giraffe habitat has a pavilion for visitors to get an eye to eye view of the giraffes. The new facility opened on February 12, 2010.

In 2011, brought along the grand opening of a new river otter exhibit, complete with glass that enabled visitors to walk up to visitors and interact with the very sociable North American river otters in their naturalistic habitat.[1]

In September 2014, the zoo opened Small Wonders of Africa with aardvarks, Wolf's guenon, red-billed hornbill, and other creatures.

The zoo is working on replacing its current Reptile House with a Biodiversity Center.[4]

In November 2018, zoo officials have explored the possibility of moving the zoo to the former ARCO Arena site in Natomas, citing the need for more space and the constraints of their current location; however, the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association controls the arena site and have conflicting plans to build a mixed-use development on the site.[5] 35 acres (10 hectares) of the former ARCO Arena site were donated to California Northstate University to build its new medical center.[6]

In June 2020, a red panda named Amaya gave birth to her second cub at the Sacramento zoo.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "History". Sacramento Zoo. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 12 January 2011.
  3. ^ It's a Penguin Party last accessed April 7, 2007.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Biodiversity Centre first phase in total transformation of Sacramento Zoo". June 19, 2017. Retrieved August 22, 2022.
  5. ^ "Sacramento Kings Release Plans For Site Of Sleep Train Arena". KOVR-TV. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  6. ^ Bizjak, Tony; Finch, Michael II (June 18, 2021). "New use for Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena site revealed: 'A hub of innovation'". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  7. ^ "'Robust and active' — Sacramento Zoo shows off pictures of red panda born last month". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved July 13, 2020.

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