Zoo Boise is a small, modern city zoo located at Julia Davis Park in Boise, Idaho. In 1916, a chimpanzee escaped from a traveling zoo that briefly visited Boise. By the time the chimpanzee was discovered, the zoo had moved on. The city made the best of the situation and decided to house the lost chimp along with a gift of rare birds from the Sportsmen's Club at a new facility created specifically for that purpose.
Throughout the 1920s, the Zoo was supported by the Boise Police Department, whose officers solicited donations of food from local supermarkets and restaurants in order to feed the animals. Despite the hardship, the zoo had grown to forty animals by the beginning of World War II. Over the next several decades, the Friends of Zoo Boise renovated and built numerous new exhibits, including bear grottoes, a tiger exhibit, an education center and the Penguin Pavilion. In 2002, in conjunction with the opening of a new Amur tiger exhibit, Zoo Boise was awarded the prestigious accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Today, the small city zoo is home to over 200 animals housed in naturalistic exhibits where the animals have room to roam and enjoy the outdoors. Each of the exhibit areas focuses on an area of the world, including Africa, Asia, North America, or South America. The newest African exhibits include an African Plains exhibit as well as a themed African village exhibit. One of the more popular exhibits features rain forest birds and animals in a naturalistic setting complete with open-air aviary and a monkey house.
The zoo added two new residents during 2008, a Grevy's zebra acquired from Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, and a red panda born at the zoo. Syringa, the panda cub, is one of only 12 red panda cubs born in captivity in 2008. The Grevy's Zebra was named Hope by the schoolchildren of the city. Other popular animals at the zoo include the Madagascar hissing cockroach, the giant gecko, the gila monster, the bald eagle, the Magellanic penguin, the spider monkey, the coati, the moose, the ocelot, the snow leopard, the bobcat, the slender-tailed meerkat, and the bighorn sheep. A number of these species are classified as "vanishing species'' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, so the zoo participates in conservation and breeding efforts in many cases to help boost these animals' numbers in the wild.
In addition to the exhibits at the zoo, Zoo Boise also presents numerous family and adult activities at the zoo throughout the year and offers education and outreach to the schools and the community at large. Guests can also rent the zoo for special events.
Admissions and Hours: Zoo Boise is open year round except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Admissions range from $3.75 to $6.50 with discounts available for groups. Special rates and weekly discount days are available. For more information about hours and admission, contact Zoo Boise at
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