Boise Places Worth Seeing

Zoo Boise - The Safest Way to See Lions, Tigers, and Bears

I don't know about you, but the only reason I go to a zoo is to see monkeys flinging poo and taking part in other socially unacceptable (for us, at least) behavioral atrocities. That's the kind of live-action entertainment you just can't get on the TV. If you also find this behavior amusing, I'm happy to say that Zoo Boise is large enough to provide such entertainment, which I guess makes it a real zoo. Well, that plus the fact that it has hundreds of animals representing over a hundred different species.

You'd never know how nice Zoo Boise is just by looking at it from the outside. It's larger than it appears, and it has a good variety of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians hiding behind the ugly exterior fencing and summertime vegetation. Despite a rough stretch in the early 1960s when it almost closed, Zoo Boise is very much alive and decently funded now, which means it is constantly adding and remodeling their exhibits to keep things interesting. Take, for instance, the fairly new African Plains Exhibit, which has an educational center and nice facilities for lions and giraffes. It's not too shabby at all, and if you've ever wondered if it's possible to take a safari without worrying about malaria, jackals, and poachers, the answer is yes.

The fact that Zoo Boise now has a couple of giraffes surprises some people, but I always remain stunned that our humble zoo has two snow leopards AND a komodo dragon. Aren't there only about thirty snow leopards left in the entire world? What more could you ask for in middle-of-nowhere America, except for maybe a komodo dragon in a cage match with a snow leopard. That would certainly be something. Smart money would be on the dragon.

Anyway, back to my first love, the primates. If you hang around Gibbon Alley long enough, you will see poo or urine in motion. It's a scientific fact. There might not be flinging involved, but nature will take its course, during which time you can cheer on the particular primate and try to goad it into doing something spectacular. In my experience, they are all too willing to accommodate you, because what else of note could possibly happen to them during the average day in captivity? I'd be creating poo paintings of Vladimir Putin if I were in their position.

For an even more delightful treat, visit Mr. Holmes, the zoo's rather amorous male zebra. On a visit a few years ago, my ugly wife attempted to comfort the lonely-looking fellow by telling him that he'd never have to worry about becoming dinner for lions or crocodiles, but this attention had an unintended effect. Let's just say he's really, really lonely and would benefit from the addition of a zebra of the fairer sex. My mother was so impressed with his display that she took a picture, which she now cherishes more than her wedding photos. She's kinda weird like that.

For some reason, kids love the zoo's penguin house, and while it's nice to see the birds swimming around from the viewing windows get a smashed souvenir penny there, I think the place smells worse than the monkey house, and I can only spend about two minutes in there before I have to flee to the somewhat less offensive outside air. Your olfactory response may vary. If your kids aren't impressed by flightless birds, they'll surely love the Zoo Farm, where they can beg you for quarters so they can buy some treats to feed the goats, llamas and other similar mud-caked creatures. Normally I'd say such an activity is good, clean fun for everyone, but I'm pretty sure it's not all that clean. At least, that why I think they have the hand sanitizer near the feed dispensers. Goat cooties are the worst.

Overall, Zoo Boise has a lot of things going for it. It's conveniently located in Julie Davis Park, and it's clean and well landscaped. It's also a good size for kids; you can see everything in about an hour. My advice: take a picnic with you in the summer and let the kids ride the merry-go-round. Them's some good memories in the making.

Place worth seeing: Zoo Boise
Where: Julie Davis Park

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When: Daily, 10am-5pm
Cost: Free to $7, depending on age and number of opposable thumbs
Website: Zoo Boise
Fun fact: If your kids misbehave, it's OK to toss them into the bobcat pen.