Murals Bring New Gorongosa Exhibit to LIfe

Zoo Boise’s new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit reflects the landscape of Mozambique, Africa thanks to a partnership with Boise State University. During construction of the new exhibit, Boise State’s Michael Baltzell and theater arts major Kaitie Branton created landscape paintings for the new animal enclosures based off of photos of real locations in the wildlife park.

Michael Baltzell in the Gorongosa Exhibit

“You want to capture the sense of the environment that the animals live in but you also don’t want to overpower the animals,” Baltzell said. He’s an associate professor and tech director for the Theatre Arts Department at Boise State University and used his background in theater to paint the interior murals for the African painted dogs, hyenas and gibbon exhibits.

Meanwhile, Branton expanded her production design skills throughout the process, helping Baltzell paint the interiors.

An International Partnership

The new exhibit is an opportunity to teach visitors about Zoo Boise’s conservation efforts in Mozambique, where Gorongosa National Park is located.

Katie Branton painting the mural

The zoo has a well-established partnership with the national park, donating $200,000 each year to help support wildlife conservation efforts halfway across the globe. That money comes from the Friends of Zoo Boise’s Conservation Trust Fund. Zoo Boise is managed by Boise Parks and Recreation and in 2007, the zoo became the first zoo in the country to create a conservation fee. – 50 cents of every Zoo Boise admission is donated to the fund to support conservation efforts here at home and abroad.

It’s important to the zoo and to the City of Boise that we do our part to protect wild animals and educate the public about conservation needs.
Gene Peacock, Boise Zoo Director

Director Peacock hopes the new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit will further strengthen the ties between Boiseans and the important conservation work going on in Mozambique.

“I’m most excited about bringing a piece of Gorongosa Park in Africa to the people of Boise. It is an amazing place with incredible biodiversity and we will have some of that here,” he added.

You can view the new murals in the Gorongosa National Park Exhibit when it opens on July 17.

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