Zoo Boise Breaks Ground on New Home for Red Pandas, Updated Gift Shop

May 7, 2024

tiger licking cage

City of Boise leaders, Friends of Zoo Boise board members, and project partners are celebrating the much-anticipated groundbreaking of two important improvement projects at Zoo Boise. The expanded indoor and outdoor red panda exhibit will increase animal care and viewing opportunities for the thousands of families who visit Zoo Boise each year, while a new gift shop will help support Zoo Boise’s wildlife conservation and education efforts around the world.

“This is an incredible day for Zoo Boise and an opportunity for us to highlight all of the generous donors who have made these investments possible,” said Boise Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway. “We are proud to own and operate this premiere zoo and even more proud of the dedicated staff who continue to put animal care first.”

The new and expanded red panda complex will contain unique outdoor habitats, indoor day rooms, and an overhead walkway to allow the red pandas to move between different areas. The exhibit design will mimic a lush Asian forest complete with various plants and an overhead tree canopy – plus, tall climbing structures for the red pandas to explore. The project also includes accessibility improvements for zoo guests to better see and interact with the animals.

This first phase of the “Heart of the Zoo” campaign includes the construction of a new gift shop, separate zoo exit, and upgrades to aging exhibits and facilities planned over the next eight years. Donations support a revamp of the Small Animal Kingdom, a state-of-the-art education facility, as well as planned updates to the penguin and snow leopard exhibits, among others. You can get involved HERE.

“Zoo Boise has been a part of the fabric of our community since 1916 and is fittingly located in Boise’s oldest park,” said Mayor Lauren McLean. “These investments are much needed, and I applaud the Friends of Zoo Boise’s commitment to animal wellbeing and wildlife conservation, while continuing to offer a unique experience for everyone who passes through the zoo’s front gate.”

To date, the Friends of Zoo Boise non-profit has raised nearly $9 million to support the current phase of the zoo’s visionary master plan, which is expected to cost $11.5 million to complete. Fundraising efforts continue to make current and future upgrades at the zoo possible.

“We would not be standing here today, celebrating the start of these exciting projects, without the support of a long list of donors,” added Friends of Zoo Boise Board President Eric DeBord. “This work is a testament to the generosity of the Boise community, and we are confident Zoo Boise will continue to educate and inspire guests of all ages for generations to come.”

The new, larger red panda exhibit and updated gift shop are expected to open Spring 2025. Areas of the zoo will be fenced and closed during construction. Please rest assured that any animals affected by the construction will be well taken care of, even if they are temporarily off exhibit.