The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs was founded in 1926 by Spencer Penrose, a philanthropist who collected exotic animals. He received his first animal in 1916, a pet bear, which sparked his love for wildlife. In fact, he started the zoo to house his growing collection of animals. And in 1938, after large amounts of development, he eventually deemed the zoo as a non-profit public trust for the community of Colorado Springs.

The majority of development occurred in 1937, the year before the zoo opened to the public. Some major additions included: Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, a Miniature Railroad, and a Carousal, which Penrose purchased from the Chicago World's Fair. The Carousal is still operational today, and visitors can also enjoy other rides such as the Mountaineer Sky Ride.

We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.

1.Cheyenne Mountain Zoo History

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo History
© Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Various additions to the zoo have occurred over the years, including the construction of the monkey and feline houses in 1942, the giraffe building in 1953, the bird and reptile house in 1956, the aquatics building in 1960, the primate world in 1966, the birds of prey exhibit in 1967, the lion's lair in 1997, and the wallaby walkabout in 2006. There have been many more milestones and additions to the zoo, as it has continued to flourish over the last century. Currently, there are more than 170 species of animals, and 7 operational rides and attractions.

Penrose wanted visitors to the zoo to enjoy an interactive experience instead of a passive one. Visitors to the zoo are actively submerged into a diverse array of culture and habitats in order to inspire respect and foster education for the wildlife it represents. Visitors are immersed into life with the animals and are even allowed to actively engage with many different species. The experience visitors receive at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is considered to be one of the most unforgettable in the United States.

The mission of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is to conserve and protect the animals in their care while educating and inspiring visitors to aid in this attempt. By promoting the study of Biology, Zoology and other important sciences, the zoo and its dedicated staff hope to generate a passion for science in the minds of its younger visitors. The preservation of these animals and their habitats are valuable for all future generations. The zoo takes pride in leaving visitors with the experience of a lifetime, hopefully represented by goosebumps.

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2.Exhibits, Rides & Attractions

Exhibits, Rides & Attractions
© Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

There are more than 170 different species of animals at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo housed in 15 different exhibits. These exhibits are: African Rift Valley, Aquatics, Asian Highlands, Australian Walkabout, Bears, Encounter Africa, Leaping to the Rescue, Monkey Pavilion, My Big Backyard, Primate World, Rocky Cliffs, Rocky Mountain Wild, Scutes Family Gallery, Tapirs, and The Loft.

Each exhibit offers its own special experience for visitors, some even allow hand-feeding and up-close encounters. One of the most popular exhibits for children at the zoo is My Big Backyard where they can climb and play are over-sized chairs, mushrooms, and ants. A petting zoo containing small animals are also in this area for the children to mingle with, including rabbits, chickens, a pot-bellied pig, and even a tarantula. There is also a life-like wooden cabin and a tree house for them to climb and enjoy the view.

There are all kinds of rides and attractions for every member of the family at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Including the working Carousel, the Mountaineer Sky Ride, Budgie Birdie Feeding, Animal Encounters, and the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.

Many of the attractions include up-close-and-personal experience with the wildlife, like The Loft, which actually allows visitors to experience what it's like to be a zookeeper. Visitors can also walk through the aviary to feed free-flying birds in the Australian Walkabout. Brightly-colored birds, including the budgie (Australian parakeets) will eat right out of visitor's hands while enjoying them in their natural habitat.

A visit to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun is including in the zoo admission price. The historic monument is a pleasant 1.4 mile hike up the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway. It was built by Penrose in memory of Will Rogers who died in a plane crash in 1935. It is elevated at a whopping 8,136 feet and provides a breath-taking view of Colorado Springs and the surrounding Pikes Peak Region.

With advanced reservations, guests can schedule animal encounters that they may have only previously dreamed of. Some of the animals available for you to meet include: Amur tiger, Bears (Grizzly or spectacled), Black rhinoceros, Black-footed ferret, Elephants, Giraffes, Hippo, Meerkats, Moose, Orangutan, Ring-tailed lemurs, Penguins, Sloth, and Zebra. However, if there is an animal that you have always dreamed of meeting, the zoo will take your request and see what they can do to make that happen.

One of the most interesting animal encounters would have to be the Orangutan. This encounter incudes a side-by-side painting session with the primates (weather permitting). Costs can vary and reservations must be made at least one week ahead of time.

There are endless animals, exhibits, and attractions available to delight every member of the family. Excitement, fun, and education is perfectly intertwined at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

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3.Conservation Programs

Conservation Programs
© Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is very active in the conversation of wildlife and wildlife habitats. The hard-working volunteers and employees at the zoo believe that the conservation of Earth and its nature should become a part of our everyday life. Two of the zoo's most prominent conservation programs are the Quarters for Conservation and the Back from the Brink program.

The Quarters for Conservation program is the most popular program at the zoo. Through the collection of quarters, the zoo can aid in conservation projects around the globe. The Back from the Brink program is an initiative to save the black-footed ferrets from extinction.

The zoo is also actively involved with the Palm Oil Crisis and Amphibian Crisis. By becoming a member of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, a hefty portion of the fees paid goes directly to these important conservation programs.

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4.Plan Your Visit

Plan Your Visit
© Courtesy of Richard -

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a wide variety of tours, encounters, and programs for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There are even zoo camps for children, a mobile zoo that will come to classrooms and educational organizations, and group adventure tours. There are all sorts of educational programs including specialized teen and early development programs.

The surrounding area of Colorado Springs is a vibrant area filled with an extensive variety of wildlife and picturesque landscapes. All sorts of activities can be planned, including hiking, shopping, outdoor picnics, and world-class dining and cultural experiences. The pride of Colorado Springs is Pike's Peak, a snow-capped mountain with picturesque waterfalls, lush forest, and breath-taking nature.

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4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906, Phone: 719-633-9925

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Things to Do in Colorado Springs, CO: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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