BOISE — A new Patas monkey exhibit opened Friday morning at Zoo Boise.
The 1,500-square-foot exhibit will feature indoor and outdoor sections, as well as several viewing areas for visitors.
Boise Mayor David Bieter, Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway and Zoo Director Steve Burns dedicated the new home of the zoo's three Patas monkeys — Incus, DJ, and Kibibi — Friday morning.
"Contrary to what you might have heard, this is not the dedication of our new (city) council chambers," Bieter joked at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "I hope I didn't offend anyone, especially our monkeys."
The new exhibit follows tragedy at Zoo Boise. A man who broke into the zoo in November killed Cratey, one of the Patas monkeys.
Michael J. Watkins, 22, pleaded guilty in March to climbing over the zoo's fence and beating the animal to death using a stick and a fire extinguisher. Watkins contended that he had planned to steal the monkey for a pet, and did not mean to kill it.
But prosecutors said that a drunken Watkins became enraged after the monkey bit him, cornering Cratey and beating him before attempting to fling the monkey's body over the fence.
Watkins was sentenced in May to seven years in prison. The judge retained jurisdiction in the case, meaning that he could qualify for early release after spending six to nine months in a prison-based treatment program.
Bieter congratulated police and prosecutors for bringing Watkins to justice.
"Out of that tragedy came, in an amazingly short amount of time, this wonderful facility and a wonderful day like today," he said. "It just shows the kind of community that we live in when people pull together what's possible."
The exhibit was built in just two months, after the city of Boise and private donors raised $219,000 for construction.
The zoo donated 10 percent of the project's costs to the Wildlife Conservation Society for the preservation of an African Patas monkey habitat in Yankari National Park.
Zoo Boise, located in Julia Davis Park, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily throughout the Labor Day weekend.