BoiseDev had the very first story on the new Gorongosa National Park exhibit and expansion at Zoo Boise more than two years ago.
Now, the project is just weeks away from opening – July 17th is the ribbon cutting and official first day. And Zoo Boise is ready.
“We are fully expecting to have a really good attendance spike,” Executive Director Gene Peacock said. “We know it will increase and just the buzz this is generating and people will want to see it.”
During a tour Tuesday, wild dogs, otters, vultures, baboons and more came out to say hi. In all, there are 20 new species in the zoo, plus many more bugs and other smaller creatures.
“From larger mammals to primates to micro world – millipedes, assassin bugs, lizards, tortoises and a lot of birds, Gorongosa National Park is very diverse and we’ve mirrored that here,” Peacock said.
Boise Parks & Recreation Director Doug Holloway said his team is ready for the influx.
“For the first two weeks, we will offer a free shuttle from Ann Morrison Park. We would encourage people if they come to the zoo and can’t find a place to park, go to Ann Morrison- it’s a short ten minute walk to the zoo.”
In the long term, with the growth of attractions like Zoo Boise and the Idaho History Museum, Holloway said the City of Boise is looking at options like sharing parking in a proposed new parking garage attached to the Boise Library campus, and options in the Central Addition of Downtown.
From Mozambique to Boise
The new area of the zoo is themed to the Gorongosa National Park in Africa. It starts with a replica of the park’s lion house. In Africa, the building started as a bar, but flooding caused humans to abandon the building. So the lions took over. Boise’s version won’t host lions – but instead welcome visitors with information on the park.
“This is where it all starts, and visitors can learn the story of the park,” Peacock said.
Many of the animals will have three options for places to spend their time: outdoors in the sun, indoors in exhibits that have public viewing areas, or a third “backstage” area where they can get some privacy.
Peacock said it helps give the animals a needed break – and options for where to spend their time.
The project cost $6 million to $7 million in construction costs, and 10% of the funding raised will go back to the original Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique through the zoo’s conservation partnership.
“Through our partnership, we’ve built schools, medical clinics, paid for rangers and scientists. This exhibit tells that story to help people make those connections.”