The Inside Scoop: Denver Zoo


imageAnytime you’re looking for a sure fire way to cheer up a kid, animals always do the trick. When my daughter is throwing a fit or mourning the loss of the last cookie, the sight of a squirrel in our backyard is usually just what the doctor ordered.

When the backyard squirrels just aren’t going to cut it, or we’re all in the mood for something a little more exotic, the Denver Zoo is our destination for a day of fun for the entire family.

DID YOU KNOW?: Founded in 1896, the Denver Zoo is over 100 years old! It was started when an orphaned American black bear cub named Billy Bryan was given to the Denver Myor Thomas S. McMurry as a gift. Along with Billy, the first inhabitants of the Zoo were antelope, prairie dogs, and wild fowl at Duck Lake.

Denver Zoo ZebrasOur local zoo is home to over 4,000 animals inhabiting a variety of awesome exhibits. These exhibits are laid out across 80 beautiful acres in the heart of Denver. The Zoo provides lots of great resources detailing where to go and what to see while you’re visiting, but it’s always fun to have a little bit of secret info that you can only get from an insider.

DID YOU KNOW?: The Denver Zoo was the first in the country to use natural habitat-like enclosures for animal exhibits, rather than cages with bars.

Some of the first animals you encounter when you enter the Zoo are the zebras. My little one is completely in love with them, and would be perfectly happy watching them prance around in their fabulous contrasting stripes for our entire visit to the Zoo.

DID YOU KNOW?: There is a brand new member of the zebra family at the Denver Zoo! A baby zebra {a foal} was born at the Denver Zoo on New Year’s Day. A social media contest let Colorado residents vote on a name, and the newest member of the zebra herd is called “Denali”. According to our super special top secret sources*, “He is extremely cute and still very small compared to the adults.” See if you can spot Denali on your next trip to the Zoo!

Denver Zoo Giraffes

Also near the entrance of the Zoo are the giraffes {just past the zebras!}. They’re the tall ones so don’t worry you can’t miss ‘em. Last time we were hanging out with the giraffes, one of them stuck his long neck almost all the way over the barrier to say hello. Needless to say, my daughter was completely thrilled–MUCH better than a squirrel.

DID YOU KNOW?: “Giraffe Encounter, Made Possible By Toyota” is a new giraffe feeding platform that will be premiering this summer where guests can purchase a token to receive pieces of lettuce to give to the giraffes! According to our super special top secret sources, “we have four reticulated giraffes at the Zoo—Dikembe, Kipele, Heshimu, and Masika.” Reticulated giraffes are the most common of the nine giraffe subspecies. The exact opening date has not been confirmed for the new program, but feedings are expected to start sometime in June. Don’t miss it!

Groucho the Elephant

Even with the amount of love that my little one has for the zebras and the giraffes and the squirrels all put together, nothing can compare to her excitement for the elephants.

These gentle giants are housed in the Toyota Elephant Passage {directly behind Predator Ridge, the southern most point of the Zoo} and are quite the sight to see.

DID YOU KNOW?: Groucho {the elephant pictured above} is the oldest elephant at the Zoo — he is 44 years old! According to our super special top secret sources, “Groucho was born at the Bronx Zoo in 1973, and went on to live at the Forth Worth Zoo before joining the crew in Denver in 2012.” Go wave hello next time you’re there!

As much as my dear daughter loves squirrels, the keepers at the Denver Zoo historically do not share her affinity for these little rodents, and for good reason!

DID YOU KNOW?: In 1905, a dray {group} of imported red squirrels almost took over the Zoo! They reproduced at such an alarming rate, they nearly wiped out the population of water fowl at Duck Lake. The squirrels had to be exiled to the Denver Mountain Parks!

We’re giving away family passes to the Denver Zoo right here on the blog until April 18, so make sure to hop over and enter to win!

What are your favorite highlights at the Zoo? Any super secret insider info you have to share?

*Endless thanks to Scott Camp, Denver Zoo Public Relations Specialist, and Julianne Waddell, Denver Zoo Guest Engagement Specialist, for being our “super special top secret sources”. And thank you to the Denver Zoo for all you do for our community!

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Megan Lombardo is mama to two awesome kiddos, proud wife to a family medicine doctor, and a professional musician and piano instructor. She and her family lived in Denver for a handful of years before embarking on their current adventure in the mountain town of Salida. Megan will be focusing on helping your family find the easiest ways to experience all the hidden gems and lovely family-friendly excursions that you can get to within a short drive of the Denver metro area. One of the greatest things about Denver is its proximity to the mountains—so get out there and explore! When she’s not blogging, you can find Megan hiking around the Arkansas River valley, having a beer at a brewery while chasing her kids around, listening to music at Riverside Park with friends, playing music with her husband, or (still) ripping out carpet and tearing down wood paneling in her 1899 home in Salida. Megan is excited to connect with all of you!


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