BOISE, Idaho — In 2007, Zoo Boise became the first zoo to establish a conservation fee taking fifty cents of every admission to generate funds for wildlife and habitat conservation.
So far, Zoo Boise has raised more than three million dollars which they spend on restoration projects in the foothills, protecting animals around the world and helping Mozambique on the eastern side of Africa restore Gorongosa National Park.
"Gorongosa National Park was once considered the most bio-diverse place on the planet, but then it was destroyed by decades of civil war and revolutionary war," said Jeff Agosta of Zoo Boise.
Across the world, mammals have suffered, especially in the last 30 years.
According to a study by Our World Data and an article written by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser about mammals, they found that in 2015 four percent of the mammals on this planet are wild animals, 34 percent of mammals are human and 62 percent are domesticated mammals.
“We are seeing more animals becoming endangered, unfortunately, we may see a lot of animals become extinct and that is one reason why zoos like Zoo Boise are important," said Agosta.
In 2008, the government of Mozambique and the Carr Foundation launched the Gorongosa project and it has been a huge success not only for the wildlife and habitat, but also the people of the region.
In 2019, Zoo Boise opened its brand new Gorongosa Exhibit with animals from this area of Africa, and because of their conservation fund, they have donated $200,000 every year for the last eight years.
"The animals are coming back in huge ways, it is amazing to see and to hear the stories is amazing," said Agosta. "From the rangers there, from the tourism department, to hear stories about these girls clubs who never have an opportunity to get an education, but now because of Gorongosa National Park they are able to learn to read and write."
Even though Africa might seem like a world away people here in Boise can help the cause just by buying admission and checking out the animals at the zoo.
"People can come see the animals, learn about the people and learn about the conservation work happening across the world," said Agosta. "People can also support it because of the conservation fee that’s built-in with admission."
Zoo Boise's conservation fund has also donated $300,000 in the past five years to restoration in the foothills.
In February, the zoo is offering two-dollar admissions every Tuesday.