Zoo Boise – Park Guide & Review

Zoo Boise is one of the most popular attractions in Southern Idaho. The 10-acre establishment which also happens to be a living science facility is home to over 300 animals representing over 100 species. With an estimated 350,000 annual visitors of all ages, Zoo Boise helps connect visitors with a wide range of wildlife animals and even involve them in the conservation of these animals.

From African lions, tigers, giraffes, African birds, pampas, to spider monkeys and sloth bears, there is so much to see and learn. In addition to a huge selection of exotic animals, the zoo also offers plenty of unique recreational and educational experiences for all ages. Amazingly, the zoo also offers a beautiful and exotic venue for your wedding and other special events.

The Zoo is owned by the City of Boise and is under the management of the Boise Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with the Friends of Boise, which is a private non-profit organization.

Overview

Location355 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, Idaho 83702
Hours10:00 am until 5:00 pm. Last admission is at 4:00 pm daily.
Admission$4 – $8 (Free for kids 2 & under)
MapSee Map
Websitezooboise.org

Formation and Developments

A monkey sits on a log at the zoo boise

In the year 1916, a monkey that was part of a circus traveling through Mountain Home escaped from captivity. It was finally located in the Mountain Home Desert which was a long way from the circus. Because the monkey was found in Boise, the Boise Zoo was then founded.

In 2008, the zoo opened its African Plains exhibit which houses various African species including African Lions, zebras, hyenas, snow leopard, tigers, red pandas, weaver birds, lemurs, rock hyrax, as well as a variety of primates.

The zoo’s newest addition is a 1.5 acres expansion that replicates the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Africa. This exhibit now accommodates over 20 African species.

About 10 years ago, Zoo Boise decided to reinvent itself by turning the act of visiting the zoo into a conservation action. All admission fees and other proceeds are now channeled towards the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund which supports the protection of animals (including endangered species) in Idaho and the rest of the world.

The Zoo Boise Animal Exhibits

Get Close-Up with the Animals in their Habitats

Zoo Boise may not be very big, but visitors are always impressed by the vast amount of animals they are able to see. Most importantly, a lot of visitors say that they were impressed by how close they were able to get to the animals especially with their Behind the Scenes Tours.

It has a total of 8 exhibits hosting your favorite animals from almost all parts of the world. They include;

African Plains Exhibit

You don’t have to book a small vacation for a wild safari trip to Africa. Right here in the heart of Idaho, Zoo Boise offers you the opportunity to see a wide range of African animals in real-life. The African Plains exhibit houses the famous African Lions, Snow Leopard, giraffes, red pandas, Grevy’s Zebra, amur leopard, African birds, and many others.

The zoo even allows you to get up-close with the giraffes, feed them, and even learn how the staff members take care of them on their Giraffe Behind the Scenes Tour (at extra cost).

A lion at the zoo in his enclosure

Animals of Asia Exhibit

Asia is home to a wide range of wild animals, and almost all of them are considered endangered. Take a trip to the Animals of Asia Exhibit in Zoo Boise and see some of the rarest and endangered species like the red pandas, snow leopards, sloth bears, and many more.

Want a chance to feed the sloth bear? Well, for only $3, you can do so in the Sloth Bear Encounter. All the proceeds go into protecting animals in the wild.

Animals of the Pampas Exhibit

Here, you’ll see the famous animals from the grasslands of South America. They include giant anteaters, kinkajous, maned wolves, rheas, and many others. During summer, you’ll also get the opportunity to see different butterfly species and even help to protect them in the Butterflies in Bloom exhibit. When you visit the exhibit, you’ll be helping in the preservation of the tropical rainforest habitat, the butterfly farmers, the children to have access to good education, the butterflies in Idaho as well as the pollinators. Your visit is really for a good cause.

Gorongosa National Park Exhibit

The Gorongosa National Park Exhibit is the newest addition that replicates the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Africa. More than 20 African animal species live in this 1.5 acres park. There is so much to see in here as well!

Small Animal Kingdom/Rainforest

This exhibit is home to more animal species compared to any other part of the zoo. In here, you’ll get to see your favorite animals like the Komodo Dragon, meerkats, spider monkeys, lemurs, tortoises, and so many more. Speaking of tortoises, the private Mr.Mac Behind the Scenes Tour lets meet and even touch the 350lbs Aldabra tortoise (at an extra fee).

South American Loop

Inside the South American Loop is the popular Penguin Pavilion which happens to be the most popular tourist spot in the exhibit. At an affordable cost ($25 for the first person and $15 for each additional person) secure your chance to meet the zoo’s Magellanic penguin colony from inside on a private behind the scenes tour. You’ll even learn how these amazing creatures are cared for by the staff members.

What’s in a Name Exhibit

Right next to the zebras is the What’s in a Name? Exhibit that houses creatures you’ve probably never set your eyes on in your entire life. Here, you’ll view the Ruwenzori long-haired fruit bats, sugar gliders, Indian flying foxes, Amazon milk frogs, and other unique animals.

Zoo Farm

For only $.25, get up-close with the zoo’s farm animals and feed them. If you’re going to bring the kids along, don’t let them miss out on the fun of petting and feeding llamas, goats, and sheep on the Zoo Farm. All the proceeds from the Zoo Farm are channeled to the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund.

Zoo Boise Map

Map of Zoo Boise
Click to view larger

Things to Do at Zoo Boise

Zoo Boise is dedicated to offering its visitors unforgettable experiences through a wide range of activities. They include;

  • Private Behind the Scenes Tours-Enjoy close encounters with wild animals on private behind the scenes tours
  • Animal Presentation Area– Meet and get up-close with various educational animals
  • Intermountain Eye Centers Sloth Bear Encounter- Get the special opportunity of seeing and even feeding the sloth bear with mealworms through a feeding tube. You can buy the mealworms for $3 at the exhibits and the proceeds will go into the zoo’s conservation fund
  • Perkins Coie Giraffe Encounter-Get up-close and even feed giraffes with lettuce leaves for only $3
  • Butterflies in Bloom-Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular view of various butterflies species on June 1st Labor Day
  • Conservation Cruise-Take a fun and relaxing cruise around the zoo’s lagoon in solar-powered boats for $1 per ride. As you ride, you’ll see the endangered white-backed vultures as well as patas monkeys. The Conservation Cruise is open to the public from May-September from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Snooze at the Zoo Overnights-The zoo also offers a wide range of the Snooze at the Zoo Overnight programs for Scout Troops, School or Youth Groups, and even Families. You’ll be basically sleeping in the open while watching the beautiful stars right in the middle of the city, which is awesome! School or Youth Groups as well as the Scout Troops will benefit from the educational programs provided by the zoo where they’ll explore and even interact with some of the animals in the middle of the night.
  • Zoo Boise Education Programs-The zoo also offers winter and spring zoo educational programs for people of all ages

Zoo Boise Special Events

Zoo Boise hosts a wide variety of events and provides visitors with a beautiful and unique venue for their special events like weddings, Mother’s Day Brunch, and even parties. According to their website, the zoo no longer hosts birthday parties. However, visitors can host parties on the their grounds. Individual admission or annual pass is required for all party attendants.

The zoo also hosts events like ZooBilee, Run Wild for Zoo Boise, Snooze at the Zoo, Event Booth Space, Boo at the Zoo, and Evening Zoo Rentals.

The Run Wild for Zoo Boise is a virtual fun run for all ages-both children and adults, and everyone can participate anytime, anywhere. It’s a perfect fun family and friends run. If you wish to be part of the Zoo Boise’s Run Wild event, you visit this page for updates on the 2021 event.

Before booking, be sure to check out their respective events pages for 2021 events information. You can even subscribe to the zoo’s newsletter with your email so you can stay updated on the upcoming events.

The Event Booth Space is one of the special events held in the zoo. Boasting a high attendance every single year, the Event Booth Space provides companies, groups, and organizations with the opportunity to increase public awareness of the organizations, sample and demonstrate their products, and also grow their brands. It’s a heavily promoted event and if you would like your company or organization to be part of it, click here to learn more about the event and even get in touch with the event coordinator.

Lemur family gathers together closely at the Boise Zoo

Weddings

If you and your partner wish to host your wedding at Zoo Boise, you can click here to submit a request. The zoo is usually available to rent for weddings all year round in the evenings from 5.30 pm-10 pm.

The zoo even offers catering services for your event or group.

Zoo Boise Hours and Admission Fees

Zoo Boise is open to the public every single day except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

The opening and closing hours are 10.00 am to 5.00 pm daily. The last admission is usually at 4.00 pm every day. You might want to arrive there a little bit earlier to avoid being denied entry.

Admission fees are as follows:

General Admission Fees– Entry is free for children aged 2 and under, $5 for ages 3-11, $4.50 for Seniors of age 62 and above, and the general admission fee for young teens and adults from age 12-61 is $8. However, every Thursday at Zoo Boise is a Discount Thursday. The general admission fees for teens and adults in the 12-61 age bracket pay $5 instead of $8, $4 for kids instead of $5, $4.25 for seniors over 62 years, and as usual, entry is free for kids under 2

Special Attraction Pricing– The Giraffe & Sloth Bear Encounter will cost you $3 while the Zoo Farm Food will only cost you$.25. A visit to the Conservation Cruise and the Carousel will only cost you $1

 Tickets must be bought in advance online. Click here to reserve one.

Zoo Boise Jobs

The zoo does offer a variety of positions depending on the interests and experience of an individual. To apply for a job in the zoo, you must be 18 years of age. You can click here to learn more about the Zoo Boise career information.

Zoo Boise Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.How Big is the Boise Zoo?

Zoo Boise sits on a 10-acre land area and houses over 300 animals.

2.Does the Boise Zoo have Elephants?

No, the Boise zoo does not have any elephants. They’ll most likely add them in the near future though.

3.Is the Boise Zoo Open Yet?

Yes, the zoo is now accessible to the public. However, visitors have to comply with the strict Covid-19 pandemic guidelines set in place. Here are the zoo’s reopening guidelines.

4.How Much Does it Cost to Go to the Boise Zoo?

Free for kids 2 and under. General admission is between $4 – $8 depending on your age and the season. Click here to view the current admission fees.

Animals Currently Hosted in the Boise Zoo

The zoo is home to a large number of animals- over 300 from over 100 species. These are the animals you’ll see on your visit:

A Red Panda at the Zoo in Boise Idaho
A Red Panda at the Zoo in Boise Idaho
  • African Clawed Frog
  • African Crested Porcupine
  • African Lion
  • African Plated Lizard
  • African Wild Dog
  • Aldabra Tortoise
  • Alexandrine Parakeet
  • Amazon Milk Frog
  • Amur tiger
  • Assassin Bug
  • Bat-Eared Fox
  • Black-handed spider monkey
  • Black-Tailed Prairie Dog
  • Blue-Bellied Roller
  • Blue-Gray Tanager
  • Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog
  • Butterflies in Butterflies in Bloom
  • California Kingsnake
  • Cape Thick-Knee
  • Capybara
  • Central Asian Tortoise
  • Cichlid
  • Coati
  • Cotton-Top Tamarin
  • Desert Rosy Boa
  • Desert Tortoise
  • Domestic Goat
  • Domestic llama
  • Domestic Rat
  • Domestic Sheep
  • Emerald Spotted Wove Dove
  • Giant Anteater
  • Giant Stick Insects
  • Gila Monster
  • Giraffe
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Greater Rhea
  • Grevy’s Zebra
  • Guichenot’s Giant Gecko
  • Inca Tern
  • Indian Flying Fox
  • Jackson’s Chameleon
  • Kenyan Sand Boa
  • Kinkajou
  • Komodo Dragon
  • Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth
  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
  • Magellanic Penguins
  • Maned Wolf
  • Moon Jelly
  • Nile Crocodile
  • North American Porcupine
  • Nyala
  • Ocelot
  • Ocelot
  • Olive Baboon
  • Orange Breasted Waxbill
  • Patagonian Cavy
  • Patas Monkey
  • Pied Vrow
  • Prehensile-Tailed Skink
  • Red Panda
  • Red-bellied Firefinch
  • Red-Capped Cardinal
  • Red-Legged Running Frog
  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Ring-Tailed Lemur
  • Rock Hyrax
  • Ruwenzori Long-Haired Fruit Bat
  • Sarus Crane
  • Scheltopusik
  • Serval
  • Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill
  • Slelder Tailed Meerkat
  • Sloth Bear
  • Snow Leopard
  • Southern Ground Hornbill
  • Southern Three-Banded Armadillo
  • Speckled Mousebird
  • Speke’s Hingeback Tortoise
  • Spotted-Necked Otters
  • Spur Wing Lapwing
  • Striped Hyena
  • Striped Skunk
  • Sugar Glider
  • Tailless Whip Scorpion
  • Taveta Golden Weaver
  • Thorny Devil Stick Insects
  • Trumpeter Hornbill
  • Vervet Monkey
  • Violet Turaco
  • Warthog
  • West African Crowned Crane
  • Western Screech Owl
  • White-Backed Vulture
  • White-Handed Gibon
  • Zebra Finch

Zoo Boise Review – Bottom Line

The Boise Zoo may not be anywhere close to being the biggest zoo in the US, but it does have its many charms. With over 300 animals to see and a variety of events to participate in, you can simply call it an “adventure haven.” Zoo Boise connects visitors with animals to inspire and involve them in the conservation of wildlife worldwide for a fun and educative experience. Go ahead and have fun with your family and friends!

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