By Macy Jenkins

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — After 91 years in Land Park, the Sacramento Zoo is looking for a new home.

Zoo officials say the only way to house more animals is to find a bigger location.

“You shouldn’t have to drive to Fresno or Oakland to see a lion or a tiger,” said Zoo Director Jason Jacobs. “We can do both here in Sacramento. If we’re going to do the best that we can to save species, we need a larger zoo.”

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From the curious wolf’s guenon to the red river hog, moving day could be on the horizon for more than 500 many animals at the Sacramento Zoo. Since 1927, the zoo has been nestled in Land Park on 14 acres of land.

But Jacobs told CBS13 they need at least 75 to 80 acres to give the animals enough space and to satisfy the toughest questions from smallest inquirers.

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“The kids are wanting to know where’s the tiger, where’s the bear, what happened to the hippo?” he said. “Over the years, due to our small space, we’ve had to make some really tough choices.”

The short answer is: right now, there’s no room for certain animals.

One of the challenges with the Land Park location is a severe lack of parking. Officials are looking at zoos in similar-sized cities like Portland, San Antonio and Cincinnati for ideas. And they believe Sacramento has the potential to double its attendance with an upgrade in size.

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Back in April, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums sent a letter to Jacobs, granting accreditation to the Sacramento Zoo. But they wrote “…we are concerned that unless significant renovations, replacements and modern improvements are made to a number of facilities over the coming five-year accreditation cycle, AZA accreditation may not be achievable when the Sacramento Zoo next applies.”

So where in Sacramento can you build a brand new zoo?

“We’re not sure yet but it doesn’t matter where we go, the point is we need to go,” Jacobs said.

The zoo will work with the city to figure out the best location. But locals like Amy Krause say they don’t want to see the zoo leave their quiet community.

“I’d be so sad, so sad,” she said. “It’s a fabulous place and we’re lucky to have it in our neighborhood.”

The price tag for Phase 1 would be between $120 and $150 million. But it’s money Jacobs views as an investment in the next generation.

“If we are going to teach the children of Sacramento to be good stewards of this planet and make a difference in conservation, now is the time for action,” he said.

Jacobs told CBS13 that with the right partners, Sacramento could see the new zoo open by 2027.

As far as what would happen to the city-owned space? It likely wouldn’t be housing, but instead, something that would benefit the entire community.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg released the following statement to CBS13 on the possible move:

“While it’s too early to endorse a specific plan or location, I applaud the zoo’s vision and support the idea of creating another destination in Sacramento. Our zoo is wonderful, but it has outgrown its home.”

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