- Harrison Berry
- Zoo Boise Superintendent Steve Burns spoke at the kickoff for the Zoo With a New View fundraising campaign.
Zoo Boise is a national leader when it comes to conservation. That reputation was solidified March 1, when zoo officials launched an effort to raise funds for increased conservation efforts and update its aging facilities. The kicker: Most of the fundraising is already done.
"It's a big hill to climb, but I know we can do it," said Friends of Zoo Boise President Jay Gustavsen.
The Zoo With a New View campaign has been raising money to replace primate and aviary facilities at the zoo and highlight its conservation efforts, which include its conservation fee and partnership with Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.
The total goal is $8.9 million, but during the fundraiser's silent phase, donors raised approximately $7.1 million, leaving $1.8 million-$1.9 million left to raise before an April 2017 deadline.
"We have limited funds. We have access to limited resources," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who announced the Boise City Council had funneled $1 million in toward the project. "If we're going to do something like the zoo, we need public and private investments."
Already, more than 35 individuals, organizations and other entities have made contributions of more tha $10,000.
Meanwhile, Zoo Boise's conservation fee has raised about $2 million for conservation programs. For Zoo Boise Superintendent Steve Burns, those efforts have changed the way visitors and staff see the zoo.
"We don't look at exhibits just as exhibits anymore," he said. "To us, they're vehicles."
The fundraiser, however, has more direct implications for Zoo Boise. Citing the violent death of a Patas monkey in 2012, Burns said improvements need to be made to the zoo's facilities and funds will go toward improving habitats for monkeys and birds.
"We don't feel that we can bring [existing facilities] up to modern zoological standards," he said.