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New Gorongosa Exhibit Murals Taking Shape

Zoo Boise’s new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit is coming to life thanks to a partnership with Boise State University. Over the last few weeks, Boise State’s Michael Baltzell and theater arts major Kaitie Branton have been busy creating landscape backgrounds for animal exhibits.

Michael Baltzell in the Gorongosa Exhibit

“You want to capture the sense of the environment that the animals live in but you also don’t want to overpower the animals,” Baltzell said. He’s an associate professor and tech director for the Theatre Arts Department at Boise State University and is using his background in theater to paint interior murals for African painted dogs, hyenas and gibbons.

Branton is expanding her production design skills in the process, helping Baltzell paint the exhibit interiors.

Katie Branton painting the mural

An International Partnership

The new exhibit is an opportunity to teach visitors about Zoo Boise’s conservation efforts in Mozambique, where Gorongosa National Park is located.

The zoo has a well-established partnership with the national park, donating $200,000 each year to help support wildlife conservation efforts halfway across the globe. That money comes from the Friends of Zoo Boise’s Conservation Trust Fund. Zoo Boise is managed by Boise Parks and Recreation and in 2007, the zoo became the first zoo in the country to create a conservation fee. – 50 cents of every Zoo Boise admission is donated to the fund to support conservation efforts here at home and abroad.

“It’s important to the zoo and to the City of Boise that we do our part to protect wild animals and educate the public about conservation needs,” said Gene Peacock, Zoo Boise director.

Director Peacock hopes the new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit will further strengthen the ties between Boiseans and the important conservation work going on in Mozambique.

“I’m most excited about bringing a piece of Gorongosa Park in Africa to the people of Boise. It is an amazing place with incredible biodiversity and we will have some of that here,” he added.

Zoo Boise’s new Gorongosa National Park Exhibit is scheduled to open on July 17.

Help People of Mozambique 

Zoo Boise is also stepping up to support people in Mozambique who are struggling following a series of recent storms. A cyclone hit Idai in central Mozambique in March, flooding villages surrounding Gorongosa National Park. Zoo staff members have been in close contact with partners at the park and recently donated an additional $10,000 from the conservation fund to support relief efforts.

Learn how you can help the relief efforts for cyclone victims.



Published: April 04, 2019