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On Walkabout At: The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo In Colorado

Basic Information

  • Name: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Price:  Starting at $17.25 or less depending on season and age
  • Hours: Summer: 9AM-6PM, Winter: 9AM-5PM
  • More Information: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo website

Narrative

There is probably no place in Colorado Springs that my toddler likes to visit more then the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs:


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The zoo is built literally on the side of Cheyenne Mountain which ensures that visitors will be getting some exercise when visiting the zoo because most of the time going between exhibits is spent either going up hill or down hill:

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a long history in Colorado Springs and is one of the most iconic locations in the city.  Here is a brief history about the zoo from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo website:

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose to house his growing collection of exotic animals. In 1938, after substantial development, Mr. Penrose incorporated the Zoo as a non-profit public trust for the people of Colorado Springs. This trust was deemed “for the sole purpose of establishing and maintaining a zoological park to provide recreation, education, conservation and scientific facilities in the field of zoology and related subjects, and to preserve the Zoo in perpetuity for the people of the Pikes Peak region.”

Today, the Zoo has been successful in transforming a visitor’s experience from a passive viewer to an active participant. Visitors are submerged into culture and habitat, inspiring a new respect for the preservation of wildlife through hands-on education and creating a “never to be forgotten” experience.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Income is generated from earned revenues, membership dues, donations, corporate sponsors and grants.

Up on a hill above the zoo the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun can be seen which Spencer Penrose built between 1934 and 1937:

He built the shrine to honor the entertainer Will Rogers who died in a plane crash in 1935.  Penrose died in 1939 and his ashes are kept in this shrine that overlooks both the city and zoo that he loved.  There is actually a road that drives through the zoo and up to the shrine so visitors can check it out.  Access to the shrine is free with paid admission to the zoo.

Penrose’s Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a great variety of wildlife, but fittingly the first animal we saw the first time we visited the zoo was this iconic Colorado mountain goat:

He seemed pretty happy hanging out on top of the rocks and letting people take his picture.  The animals that my daughter likes to see the most is zoo’s most famous residents, it giraffes:

The giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are extremely friendly and zookeepers sell treats for people to feed the giraffes with.  Once a giraffe spots somebody with a treat it will head right for that person:

The giraffes definitely enjoy the treats and kids definitely have fun giving the treats to them:

The giraffes in turn seem quite satisfied to be getting so many easy snacks:

The giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are considered the largest herd in the US so there are plenty of hungry giraffes here for kids and adults alike to feed.  Near the giraffes there is another pen that has some other African animals that live in it such as the boars:

From there we took an elevator to the top of a tower that provides a nice overlook of this section of the zoo:

Here is the view looking back towards the city:

A major exhibit that is supposed to open in the next few months is the Africa exhibit that construction crews have been working on for the past year:

My family and I definitely plan to come check out this exhibit when it opens.  From the construction site we walked over to the Australia exhibit:

Considering the vast amount of wildlife in Australia, there was actually very few of the animals here on display.  They had a small enclosure that had a handful of wallabies in it:

Then there was another enclosure with emus in it:

I actually had more Australian wildlife in my backyard when I was living in Australia, but it was still nice to see the few Australian animals they do have at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  Near the Australia exhibit there is a building filled with birds that I highly recommend if you have kids to go and check out:

The birds here are very tame and they will fly up next to people in the enclosure and sometimes land on your shoulder.  My daughter absolutely loved this place and we spent about 30 minutes here with her playing with the birds.  Near this bird enclosure is another interesting exhibit that features a number of reptiles kept in artfully decorated displays:

Here is a few pictures of the lizards and snakes on display at the exhibit:

Blotched Kingsnake from the US
Green Tree Monitor from New Guinea
Blue Monitor from New Guinea
Bearded Dragon from Australia

Another exhibit that my daughter loves are the various bears at the park.  The park has three different types of bears.  The first is the Spectacled Bear which is South America’s only bear species:

This bear climbs trees and can spend several days in one tree just eating fruit.  Due to expanding agriculture in South America that is taking away bear habitat, the Spectacled Bear is now considered endangered.  The next bear species is the Asiatic Black Bear, which is more commonly known as a “Moon Bear“:

The Moon Bear has a white crescent patch on its front side and thus the name it is given:

These Moon Bears much like the Spectacled Bears climb trees in search of food.  They are considered a vulnerable species due to the fact that there body parts and even their bile is used in many traditional Asian medicines.  The final bear species at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are the two Grizzly Bears they have:

This species of bear is well known for its aggressiveness and the fact that they will if hungry eat humans.  However, at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo they are both well fed and even trained to conduct a variety tricks such as the one shown below:

Another thing my daughter likes besides checking out the animals is riding on this historic carousel:

What makes this carousel historic is the fact that it was a popular attraction at the 1932 World’s Fair.  It was installed in the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 1937 where it still operates.  Near the carousel at the center of the zoo there is a cafeteria that serves various food.  My wife and I usually order a buffalo burger and a hot dog which we think are quite good:

From the cafeteria area there is another nice overlook of the zoo:

Here is the view once again looking back towards downtown Colorado Springs:

Near the cafeteria area there is a large building that has a variety of small monkeys that is also worth checking out:

A short walk up the hill from the monkeys is the Asian Highlands exhibit that has a very large tiger for people to see:

There have been times I went to the zoo when I could not see the tiger because he was hiding somewhere, but when he is out and about he is quite a sight to see:

Since this zoo is located in Colorado it makes sense that it has a large variety of North American animals.  Right next to the Asian Highland exhibit is where the North American animals are located.  One of the best displays is a large tank filled with otters:

The otters are fun to watch as they swim around in their tank:

There is also a wolf exhibit, but when I have gone to the zoo I have found the wolves hard to spot:

Here is a picture of a bobcat which is also hard to spot in the zoo:

The zoo also has a group of mountain lions that are usually very visible:

These animals are very hard to spot in the wild, but at the zoo they almost appear to like the attention they receive from all the visitors taking their picture:

Near the mountain lions is pen that has a moose that always seems to be either asleep or half asleep when ever we walk by it:

Finally from the North American animal exhibit there is once again another nice view of Colorado Springs:

From the North American exhibit we typically walk to the south side of the zoo to check out the animals they have on display there such as these hippos:

These hippos are huge and it is actually fun to watch the zookeepers feed them:

Near the hippos is an enclosure that has a Komodo Dragon on display:

The komodo dragon is only found on two isolated islands in the Indonesian archipelago.  The dragons which are the largest lizards on Earth have only been known to the west for about 100 years despite living on the islands for millions of years.  The komodo dragon is basically a living dinosaur and just one look at them confirms this:

The same building with the dragons and hippos on display also has a few penguins to check out as well:

In another building near the hippos there is an exhibit that features a number of gorillas:

Besides the gorillas the enclosure also has a number of orangutans on display:

The orangutans can be seen at set times putting on a show for zoo visitors to include even the juvenile orangutans:

Something else of interest with the orangutans and gorillas is that the zoo sell artwork that these animals create which I thought was a pretty cool idea.

Besides checking out the animal exhibits the zoo also has a few fun areas for kids to play at such as this chicken pen where kids can chase around the chickens:

The zoo also has a large park enclosure where kids can freely run around and expend what energy they have left after checking out the animals:

Conclusion

The zoo is a great place to visit that I recommend that people living in or visiting Colorado Springs to at least visit once.  My toddler likes the zoo so much that we have been to the zoo 8 times over the past year.  That is why we bought a zoo family membership for $96.50 that gives us free admission and other benefits for an entire year.  If we didn’t have kids we probably would not visit the zoo enough every year to make the membership price worth it, but for us right now it is a bargain.  However, you don’t need to have a family to enjoy this great zoo.  There is plenty of interesting animals to see, things to do, and great views from Cheyenne Mountain that make a trip to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo worth it.

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