Home to over 3,500 animals, this popular zoo strives to promote animal welfare and conservation, inspired by one very important orphaned bear.
Visit Denver Zoo to discover over 650 species of animal, all housed in rich, naturalistic environments. The grounds cover over 32 hectares within City Park and attract upwards of 1.6 million visitors each year. The zoo’s story begins with Billy Bryan, a small orphaned black bear that was donated to the mayor of Denver in 1896. From that moment on, animal welfare and preservation of endangered species and habitats have been at the heart of this popular institution.
With Billy Bryan in mind, the first exhibit you should see is Bear Mountain. This is one of the older exhibits, dating back to 1918, and one of the first in America to emulate the animal’s natural surroundings. Watch as grizzly bears, Asiatic bears and coati roam over the simulated rocky outcrops, in what is now a national historic landmark.
You could spend hours observing the highly social monkeys and apes that live in the 3-hectare Primate Panorama. Tree-dwelling monkeys swing around and climb the twisted vines that reach four stories high. The majestic gorillas have their own separate space where they can roam free.
Don’t miss the African savannah-themed Predator Ridge, home to two prides of lions, as well as 13 other species of African animals, such as spotted hyenas, crowned cranes and banded mongoose. Stop at the Pahali Ya Simba, the Swahili phrase for “place of the lions”, an interactive discovery centre where you can learn all about ongoing conservation efforts.
You’ll have the chance to get even closer to some of the zoo’s residents with Wild Encounters. Touch snakes and alligators, if you dare, or handle a prairie dog. You can also watch the hugely popular daily feeding demonstrations. During summertime, between Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) and Labor Day (the first Monday in September), the Wildlife Theatre puts on exciting shows of free-flying birds and other fascinating creatures. All of these events are designed to highlight the value of each species and the importance of protecting endangered animals.
Denver Zoo is a 10-minute drive from downtown Denver, and parking is available. It is also easily accessible by light rail or bus.