Sacramento Zoological Society

The William Land Park Zoo opened its gates on June 2, 1927, as the City of Sacramento brought together an assortment of animals from various local parks. At that time, the 4.2-acre zoo was home to a collection of 40 animals that included monkeys, raccoons, birds, deer and other small animals. The Sacramento Zoological Society formed in 1959 to support and raise funds for the zoo as city funding began to dwindle. 1959 also brought the start of the zoo's educational programming. In the early 1960s, the zoo was enlarged to its current 14.2-acre size and new habitats began to spring up in nearly every corner with the help of a $300,000 Zoo Improvement Bond. In 1965, the zoo began charging admission: twenty-five cents. In 1970, the Sacramento City Council adopted the name "Sacramento Zoo."

During the 1980s, zoos began to provide a new experience for visitors by replacing iron bars and concrete walls with protective moats, larger animal enclosures and a more naturalistic look. At this time, a new long-range master plan was adopted that prioritized the need for continued improvements and additions to the zoo. In 1997, as City funding continued to decrease, the Sacramento Zoological Society took over complete financial and managerial control of the zoo. The Claire Mower Red Panda Forest, a habitat for the endangered red panda was built in 2000. The Lemurs of the Lost World exhibit opened in 2004 with Coquerel's sifaka lemurs and black and white ruffed lemurs. The giant anteater exhibit also opened with a glass viewing area rather than mesh. 2005 saw the groundbreaking of the Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital - a project that was completed in less than one year. The newly renovated and expanded Tall Wonders giraffe habitat opened in 2010. 2011 brought the grand opening of an expanded and renovated otter exhibit, complete with glass that enabled visitors to walk up and interact with the North American river otters. In 2014, the Small Wonders of Africa habitat renovation brought six new species to the Sacramento Zoo. The role of zoos has changed dramatically over the past several decades. The focus of zoos has shifted from showcasing as many animals as possible, to creating a recreational experience that also focuses on the importance of providing an educational premise for which zoos exist. Today, the Sacramento Zoo has three very distinct purposes - education, conservation, and recreation.


The Sacramento Zoo inspires appreciation, respect, and a connection with wildlife and nature through education, recreation, and conservation.


Animal Care: $3,833,113

Maintenance & Capital Improvements: $1,800,000

Education Programs: $934,840

Approximately 1,600 volunteers donate 45,000 hours of service on average each year.

Projects (Exhibit Renovations & Updates): $500,000. The current fundraising projects include renovating exhibit spaces at the zoo to bring in new species such as cheetahs and more.

Organization Data


Organization name

Sacramento Zoological Society

Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category


Operating Budget

$5,000,0001-$10 million

Organization Need

Funding: Program, Funding: Unrestricted, Volunteers


3930 West Land Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95822





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