Denver Zoo (credit: CBS)
Since 1896, the Denver Zoo has been one of the premier institutions in Colorado. The very first animal to call the zoo home was an orphaned black bear named Billy, a gift to the mayor of Denver. That little bear helped to form the impressive 80-acre park that is the Denver Zoo today. With almost 4,000 different animals representing 700 species, there’s a lot to see and enjoy at the Denver Zoo, making it one of the most popular attractions in Colorado.
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Some of the most popular exhibits at the Denver Zoo are also home to some of the rarest animals. You can see okapi, the Amur leopard and the red-bellied lemur, or get a look at a Siberian tiger or a black rhino. Yes, these five animals are among the most rare at the Denver Zoo, and you simply must take some time to see these incredible treasures. Among the other popular exhibits is the Toyota Elephant Passage. You’ll find two miles of trails on 10 acres of terrains as one of the most complex elephant habitats in all of North America.
Bear Mountain is also a very special exhibit at the Denver Zoo. This mountain was the very first naturalistic habitat of its kind in the country. The mountain is made of actual plaster casts of rocks from an area near Morrison, Colorado, and was specifically designed to truly simulate the bear’s natural habitat. You’ll find grizzly bears here, as well as Asiatic black bears and coati, so this exhibit is also a great one to visit while you are at the zoo.
Predators and Primates
Of course, Predator Ridge and the Primate Panorama are the other two very popular spots to visit at the zoo. Predator Ridge is home to 50 animals, including lions, hyenas, African porcupines, African wild dogs and more. It is home to two prides of lions, and you can get quite close to these magnificent animals. The Primate Panorama, on the other hand, is home to seven acres of monkeys and apes, from the largest to the smallest. The gorillas roam in their own one-acre exhibit, while the Jewels of the Emerald Forest pavilion has orangutans and lowland gorillas.
There are also a number of very special programs at the Denver Zoo, allowing you to get truly up close with the animals. The Animal Adventures programs are a unique way to learn more and get even more exposure to some of the best animals and experts at the zoo. The Penguin Encounter is a great experience that is guided by one of the expert staff members. You’ll get a 90-minute presentation with a chance to learn all about how the penguins are cared for and just what goes into the penguin habitat. Plus, you’ll get to meet a penguin up close in this limited opportunity.
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Located just outside the Denver Zoo is one of the largest parks in Denver. City Park is a huge and truly beautiful park, which can complete your day at the Denver Zoo. Grab a picnic and a blanket, relax under the huge shade trees and chat about your experiences visiting all of those unique and amazing animals. You can also visit the playground, walk around the huge lake or take in all the incredible sculptures that are found throughout the park. Your visit to the Denver Zoo would not be complete without a little time at this beautiful park.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.