Zoo Boise’s new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit is now open to the public. The 2.5-acre expansion highlights the zoo’s conservation efforts across the globe while educating users on efforts to aid the animals and the people who live in Mozambique, Africa.
Zoo Boise, a division of Boise Parks and Recreation, hosted a ribbon-cutting Wednesday morning to celebrate this new era for the zoo.
“We couldn’t be more proud of this new exhibit and the story it tells about our community’s commitment to conservation,” said Mayor Bieter. “We should all celebrate this wonderful addition for the City of Boise and the entire Treasure Valley community – and the great work it represents in redeeming a very special part of this world.”
The new exhibit is home to new animals that are typically found in Mozambique. Visitors can meet African wild dogs, spotted-necked otters, warthogs, a Nile crocodile, vervet monkeys and more. Each animal enclosure was designed to mimic existing landscapes and geological features found in Gorongosa National Park.
Original public art inspired by Gorongosa was created by artist Melissa “Sasi” Chambers for the new exhibit. Zoo visitors can interact with the large installation, which was inspired by animals native to the national park including the African elephant, blue wildebeest, the greater kudu and the leopard.
In addition, Zoo Boise partnered with the theater department at Boise State University to bring the sunsets and landscapes of Mozambique to life through paintings on the walls of the indoor exhibits.
The more than $9 million expansion would not be possible without the fundraising efforts of the Friends of Zoo Boise, a non-profit membership organization that supports Zoo Boise in animal acquisition, capital improvement projects, education programs, volunteer opportunities and special events.
“The Friends of Zoo Boise board is grateful to all of the generous families, corporations and foundations who helped to make this project a reality,” said Friends of Zoo Boise Board President Kristen Ruffing. “We are so excited to show our community this incredible exhibit and to further our partnership with Gorongosa National Park.”
The zoo’s expansion was also supported by Boise Mayor David Bieter and the Boise City Council.
“This is the realization of years of fundraising, planning and construction,” said Zoo Boise Executive Director Gene Peacock. “We are excited to introduce our guests to new animals and new interactive experiences that highlight how special Gorongosa National Park is. We feel this exhibit truly brings Africa to Boise.”
Conservation funds from Zoo Boise have helped improve the Gorongosa animal preserve and support the people who live around it following years of civil war. A portion of each admission fee at Zoo Boise goes toward the conservation fund, which also supports projects here at home, including restoration efforts in the Boise Foothills. The zoo was ahead of its time in creating its innovative conservation initiative. The fee is now replicated by zoos across the country.
“We hope this exhibit is eye-opening for our visitors in that they learn about our efforts to protect and preserve wildlife around the world,” said Doug Holloway, Boise Parks and Recreation director. “Visiting the zoo is not just a family tradition here in Boise, it’s also a conservation action. We are proud of that legacy.”
For more information about the new exhibit, photos of the animals and background on the zoo’s conservation mission, view the online media kit: https://zooboise.org/gorongosa-national-park-exhibit-media-kit/
Getting to Zoo Boise (355 Julia Davis Dr.)
Zoo Boise guests who plan to check out the new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit on opening day, July 17, and throughout the month of July are encouraged to use a free shuttle service provided by Boise Parks and Recreation to get to and from the zoo. The shuttle will pick passengers up near the softball fields in Ann Morrison Park (Ann Morrison Blvd. entrance) and take them directly to the zoo. Signage is posted to point users to the shuttle stops.
Shuttles will run between Ann Morrison Park and Julia Davis Park every 15 to 20 minutes, seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last admission to the zoo each day is at 4:30 p.m.
Zoo Boise visitors are also welcome to park in Ann Morrison Park and walk or ride a bike on the Greenbelt to the zoo. In addition, Boise GreenBike and e-scooter travel to and from the zoo is a good alternative transportation option.
If you are planning to park inside Julia Davis Park, please keep in mind that there is additional parking behind the zoo that is often still available when parking spots in front and around the Rose Garden are full. Parking is available on a first come, first served basis at Zoo Boise.