SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Big plans for the Land Park Sacramento Zoo as it turns 90-years-old this week.

Exhibits are changing and some animals will be leaving, but officials say there are some much-needed improvements.

“In some ways, we show our 90 years and if we continue to focus on the way we need to on animal welfare and conservation and education, the zoo needed to be completely reimagined,” said park CEO Dr. Kyle Burks.

“Look there she is,” said 3-year-old Jayla Moore pointing toward a lion.

It’s her first time to the Sacramento Zoo. The family visiting from Redding was ecstatic to see the lions but sad to learn they’re becoming extinct in Land Park.

“This was a very special opportunity for her to be able to to come and look at the animals,” said Reannon Moore, Jayla’s mom.

“Those are some of the hard decisions we’ve had to make,” Burks said about having to let the lions go.

But that’s just to make room for large cat habitats, in particular, those on the endangered species list.

“Sumatran Tigers are critically endangered and there are less than 400 of their species left in the entire world and we are lucky enough to have them here and want to share them with the public and help show the public why they’re so important to be preserving their habitats out in the wild,” said Tonja Candelaria, zoo spokeswoman.

The exhibit will not only be more lifelike for the tigers, but also for visitors.

“Imagine walking on this walkway and looking up and seeing a tiger walk over your head between habitats there,” Burks said.

The cost of the renovations is around $75 million and will be done one phase at a time.

“We’ll fundraise for a project and complete it and then start fundraising again,” Burks said.

The old reptile house has traditionally been the coolest part of the zoo especially on hot days, but it’s 50 years old and time to come out of its shell. It will be among the first phase.

“A completely re-imagination of our reptile facility,” he said.

It’s a project that will take 15 to 20 years, which means little Kayla will still have time to grow up with the beloved lions before they roam elsewhere.

It will take about a year or two to raise money and we can expect to see the first new reptile exhibit shortly after that.


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