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Video: Anticipating Rising Waters, City Protects Zoo Boise with 'Muscle Wall'

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The waters of the Boise River are rising, but to protect animals at the Zoo Boise from potential flooding, the city is building a "muscle wall," not an Ark.

The wall will be a 2-foot-high, 2,000-foot-long water-filled bladder between the zoo and river. Construction of the barrier will close Julia Davis Drive from the bandshell to the tennis courts, but the Friendship Bridge between the park and Boise State University will remain open to pedestrian and bike traffic.

Evacuating Zoo Boise would cost the city of Boise $500,000-$600,000, according to city officials, while the $130,000 barrier has been touted as the most cost-effective solution to potential flooding. Another consideration, zoo officials said, would be the potential distress caused to the more than 200 animals should they need to be relocated.

A wall similar to the one used to protect the zoo was deployed to hold back floodwaters at a gravel pit near Eagle Island in May.

Flows on Boise River measured 9,300-9,500 cubic feet per second Tuesday and Wednesday at the Glenwood Bridge. That's the highest flow rate in the past 35 years by more than 1,000 feet per second. Meanwhile, federal water managers have warned the city flows may increase in the coming week as warm weather persists and upstream reservoirs reach capacity.

High water has been a consistent challenge this spring. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Garden City Mayor John Evans closed most sections of the greenbelt April 14, and those sections have remained off limits to the public ever since.

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