By CBS13 Staff

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — The Sacramento Zoo is now looking to Elk Grove as a possible new site, officials announced on Thursday.

A 60-acre portion of a 98-acre parcel off Kammerer Road is now being analyzed.

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“Our first priority is always doing what is best for the animals,” said Zoological Society Board President Elizabeth Stallard in a statement.

The zoo has been looking at and studying a new possible location in Sacramento for nearly four years. Its current Land Park site is only 14.7 acres – offering no room to expand and severely limited parking for guests.

Back in 2020, officials released a feasibility study that named Natomas Regional Park as the preferred site for the zoo the relocate.

Those plans now appear to be on the back burner as the zoo takes a look at Elk Grove.

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“When we first learned of the zoo’s search for a new home, we knew the project would be a perfect fit and would align with the City’s values, said Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen in a statement. “The Elk Grove site will allow the zoo to become one of the country’s world-class zoos while honoring its nearly 100-year history and heritage in the Sacramento region.”

In response to the Elk Grove plans, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg released a statement on Thursday that urged a discussion about what it would take to keep the zoo.

“Expanding the zoo has been a challenge because we have many needs in our city,” Steinberg wrote. “We are facing urgent crises that demand our attention and our resources for many years to come such as affordable housing.”

Some community members have also pushed for the zoo to take over the old Sleep Train Arena site. However, earlier in 2021, Sacramento city leaders announced that California Northstate University will be redeveloping the site into a teaching hospital.

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The possible Elk Grove location of the zoo will now undergo six months of evaluation and negotiation, zoo and city leaders say.