City Beat

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July 22, 2013
Plan for museum with mounted exotic animals in Sacramento delayed

The wealthy couple seeking to stock a proposed Sacramento waterfront natural history museum with their collection of mounted exotic animals is delaying the plan.

Following community concerns and issues raised about the design of the project by the city's planning commission, Paul and Renee Snider are delaying a request to buy land for the museum until next year.

The Sniders plan to build a $15 million facility on Front Street, across from the city animal shelter, to house a new automobile museum and a museum displaying hundreds of animals the couple has hunted. The couple decided to delay the project last week following a planning commission meeting at which the project was discussed.

"It was obvious there were issues with the design as well as concerns that there hasn't been enough community outreach," said the family's spokeswoman, Jan Burch.

The Sniders had planned to seek approval from the City Council this fall to buy the land for the 178,000-square-foot facility. The site currently houses the California Automobile Museum.

Animal rights advocates - including the Humane Society - have objected to the plan. The Sniders want to include 60,000 square feet of exhibit space for their collection of mounted animals, including lions, a polar bear, deer, rhinos and a giraffe.

Burch said the couple is still committed to that part of the plan, despite the opposition.

"I think the Sniders are really committed to wildlife and habitat conservation and education and I think the Sniders are even more committed now after this process has happened," Burch said. "Renee Snider has some ideas and some things in the works that will make the community very happy, ways of promoting wildlife education and habitat conservation."

Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said she agrees there needs to be more community discussion of the plan. Some animal rights advocates - including the director of the city animal shelter - were unaware of the plan until it was publicized in a Bee article earlier this month.

At the same time, Fearing was critical of the Sniders' desire to promote the museum as a conservation and educational tool.

"I'm dubious that any ideas Renee Snider has about promoting wildlife conservation and habitat would square with the community's views on what that means," Fearing said. "Anyone who has seen fit in the last two decades to go kill polar bears, leopards, rhinos and elephants doesn't know what conserving wildlife is all about."

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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