Boise city leaders announced they will be taking precautionary measures this week to protect the animals that live at Zoo Boise from the hot weather and possible flooding.

In response to the rising Boise River, city engineers are working with other partners to build and install a 2,000-foot-long flood barrier. The so-called “muscle wall” is similar to one built to protect a gravel pit near Eagle Island in May.

Zoo Boise managers are also making preparations to relocate more than 200 animals, if necessary. Such a move could pose difficult logistics, expense and stress for the animals. Officials estimate the total cost of evacuating all the animals would likely exceed $500,000.

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This comes as water managers are running out of space in the Boise reservoir system and flow increases could come with just a 24-hour notice. If that happens, zoo managers would have little time to evacuate the animals.

"We are doing this out of an abundance of caution to ensure we are not faced with planning a full-scale evacuation of zoo animals on short notice," said Doug Holloway, Director of Boise Parks and Recreation. "The investment to protect the animals and zoo property is a good one, given the circumstances."

The flood barrier is expected to cost $130,000. Most of the cost is covered by grant funds from the Ada County Emergency Management.

Construction of the “muscle wall” will force the closure of Julia Davis Drive between the bandshell and tennis courts. Friendship Bridge, the pedestrian bridge between Boise State University and Julia Davis Park, will remain open for pedestrians and bike traffic. However, the Greenbelt through the park remains closed due to the high water and safety concerns.

Installation is expected to take up to two days and the barrier will remain in place until the zoo is no longer threatened by high water.