The Sacramento Zoo has tapped the head of an Arizona zoo to take over the Land Park operation as it continues its $75 million transformation.
Jason Jacobs, current director of the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Ariz., replaces Kyle Burks.
Jacobs, 40, will assume the role in early January, zoo officials said.
He “clearly shares our vision for re-imagining the future Sacramento Zoo, providing the best possible environment for the animals in our care, a focus on animal conservation in the wild and creating new and exciting experiences for our half-million visitors a year,” said Jeff Raimundo, president of the Sacramento Zoological Society’s board of trustees, in a statement.
Burks led the Sacramento Zoo for two years before abruptly announcing in July he’d been named vice president and managing director of the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. Just weeks earlier, Burks unveiled an ambitious plan to transform the zoo over the next 20 years to have a more modern look and a renewed emphasis on animal welfare and conservation. Burks had replaced longtime director and chief executive officer Mary Healy, who died unexpectedly in 2014 on a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Jacobs was selected from a field of 38 candidates and five finalists, Raimundo said.
The plan to reinvent the zoo will move forward with Jacobs at the helm, said zoo spokeswoman Tonja Candelaria.
“As of right now, all of (the plan) stays in place.” Candelaria said.
The planned renovation is in keeping with changes being made in zoos across the country. The new facility will be more focused on biodiversity, species management, conservation efforts and public education about animals that are threatened or endangered. Part of the effort will create more natural environments for the animals.
Not only is Jacobs one of the youngest zoo directors at age 40, but he also has roots in Northern California, with family in Walnut Creek.