Our Humble Beginnings

The Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary had rather humble beginnings, when, in 1963, a small bear became the first official resident. The University of California at Davis Veterinary Department had contacted Gordon Brong, Folsom Park Superintendent, seeking a safe home for a cub that had been orphaned and burned in a forest fire.

Gordon had been keeping several deer and a coyote in an area around the parks’ office and visitors often would come to see them. A bear would necessitate a more substantial cage. Gordon managed to persuade the city to provide space and local service clubs built a enclosure where “Smokey” joined the other animals to create what would be the Folsom Zoo.

Smokey became famous when the U.S. government contended only the “Smokey” known for forest fire prevention could use that name. The community rallied behind the Folsom Smokey and worldwide publicity brought even more support. Eventually the government relented and Smokey retained his name. Smokey passed away in 1984.

Front Gate 1970
Front Gate 2017

From that time on the Folsom Zoo became a safe haven for many rescued animals. The name change to Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary (2002) best describes the goal of providing for animals that are not able to be released back into the wild. Some have been “pets” that proved to be too wild or were confiscated as illegal. Many have suffered injuries that would make life in the wild impossible. Some were captured as “problem animals”. All are treated as individuals and offered the best environments for their needs.

None of the animals are bred, sold or traded. Once here, these creatures will be given the best care possible. The animals always come first and they will be loved and supported their entire lives. Occasionally animals temporarily spent time at Folsom prior to finding a permanent home. Foals rescued from Premarin pharmaceutical production were an example of such an exhibit.

Each year the city, staff, Friends of the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary, volunteers, and community members work to make this haven even better. This year has brought new and improved exhibits and several new animals. Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary has gained an international reputation and remains the pride of Folsom and the surrounding communities.

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