Monday, June 27, 2022

A Magical Mountain Zoo Experience I Won't Soon Forget!

G'day Mates!

Thanks for stopping in!  Realizing I’d written a few back to back  blogs with a more serious, heavy tone, so I was feeling a bit on a lighter note today.  And, the timing is perfect, because I'm excited to share this amazing experience from this past weekend’s road trip while it's fresh in my downloads.



Just this year, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was named #3 Best Zoo in North America!  And, their Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit was named #2 Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY.  I wasn't aware of these accolades until I was leaving the zoo at closing time after wondering why more people aren’t talking about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!.  I have personally had this destination on my "Colorado Bucket List" since moving here in March 2020, because all I needed to hear was "animals" and "on the side of a mountain" combined into one sentence.  And, now I'm a wee bit sad it took me 2.5 years to make this happen, especially since I've road tripped to Colorado Springs twice before!  If you're planning a trip to Colorado, you'll want to make this a MUST!  And, it's smart to allot at least three hours to see everything (even more time if you plan to ride the lift and have lunch).  For me, I was steady walking around and visiting with the animals for a solid three hours - and would love to know how many steps I got in!

Waiting patiently on my entry time.  They are strict about letting you in on your ticket time which you’ll choose online.
The exterior perimeters of the zoo...

So, first, I'm gonna give you all the details.  You have to buy tickets in advance on the website.  Since COVID, they have time slots that will sell out, so the sooner the better.  I actually love that they do this!  Not because I'm scared of germs, but I don't like such heavy crowds that I'm feeling sweaty bodies up next to me.  Yes, I like my space. My little brother actually got burned at a gorilla exhibit at the Atlanta Zoo, because it was so packed. It definitely keeps crowd control, and I do not hate it at all that they kept the COVID crowd control, if you must.

Next, BRING a water bottle.  Colorado Springs is super high in elevation (this zoo is at 6714 feet) which makes you even closer to the sun.  You'll not only be walking a lot, but most of it is uphill (don't worry, it's a gradual incline) as you basically zig zag along really well maintained walk ways, bridges and overlooks!  You can get dehydrated pretty quickly.  And, there are water fountains everywhere that have the bottle fill ups!  Also, there are signs everywhere reminding you to stay hydrated.  And, the best part is they have huge fans everywhere.  Some of them blow out water mists.  It's so refreshing.

Bring a water bottle!  I filled this up 6 times while I was there!

Next, there are peak time that cost more.  So, if you can visit on a week day it's cheaper admission.  I went at a very peak time, and my cost of entry was $24 and it covered parking as well.  The zoo takes zero government funding - so every bit of the price admission goes back into the zoo.  What this means is that they are only one in only a handful of zoos in the nation that operate without any tax payer funding.  They are an independent non-profit 501(c)(3).  I considered it a donation with a day of magic.  That's what I call Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - magical. But back to planning your day.  There is a lot of walking involved so a lot of people may argue early mornings are better.  However, I chose the later afternoon time slot and really lucked out in the weather, because it was almost chilly in July!!!  Also, most the crowd had already left so by the end of the day it was me and the animals - and they were more likely to come right up to me   

Plenty of parking no matter what time of day you arrive...and, even better, it's included in price of admission....

Very important - no dogs allowed!  And, although there are canopies for shade and several shaded areas of the zoo (even several indoor exhibits) - wear sunnies, a hat, and most importantly sunscreen!!  Also, supportive shoes are recommended.  I wore sandals and immediately regretted it.  I recommend wearing tennis shoes, because, again, there are quite a bit of inclined walkways and stairs.

Okay, now for the cool stuff.  The zoo was started by a philanthropist animal lover named Penrose.  He housed several exotic animals.  Then in 1938 he deeded the location to the people of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak's area for the continuation of preservation of these animals and for continued education.  Then in 1989 the zoo created a master plan where it started to replace outdated buildings and really make exciting improvements.  After raising over $30 million from the community, the zoo now has: Asian Highlands (1996), Lions Lair (1997), My Big Backyard (2001), African Rift Valley (2003), Rocky Mountain Wild and Mountaineer Sky Ride (2008), the front entry plaza and Grizzly Grill (2010), Wilgren Elephant Center (2011), Encounter Africa and The Overlook (2013), The Loft (2014), Australia Walkabout (2015), Goat Playground (2016), Water's Edge: Africa (2020), along with some new eateries and other amazing exhibits.

Here are a few pics of my visit (with some commentary)!  Enjoy

THE PRIMATES!  MY FAVE!

The super cute conservation marketing signs in the parking lot...

I walked up on this guy fishing for gold (picking his nose) and did not have my camera ready.  But, he played it off pretty good.
How pensive!
This guy loved people watching!
And, kissing the ladies!

After he kissed the window he rent right back to pensive pose...LOL!
She was so sweet initially shy...

She would pop out her food...and play with it in her mouth...

When I waved to her, she swung in on a rope...
Hit the glass...
And, laid there for a minute....


Then she grabbed a piece of newspaper...and started showing me.

LOL!

Just chillin....

HERE KITTY KITTY

Loved how playful this guy was once the crowds left....







Such beautiful enclosures....


Mountain Lion Lair....


THE LIFTS!

These lifts are not part of the admission ticket.  I think they are $4 a ride.  Also, there are trollies that are $3 per person that will transport you to different areas of the park.

NORTH AMERICAN WILDLIFE...

I SO wanted to see the grizzlies but I showed up twice and they never came out.  They were being antisocial....

'MERICA!


Quilla the porcupine


Nice Beaver!  He's waving hello!


DINING OPTIONS....


The restaurants had these gorgeous deck overlooks....

These peacocks roamed around the
Everywhere you look is just breathtaking beauty...


HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO!





Walking over this cool net bridge!



This net bridge was a fun addition to the park!  It takes you over to the exterior hippo pools!

PENGUINS AND PELICANS



I BLESSED THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA...



Meerkats are always fun!




The giraffe area is part of the "interactive" portion of the zoo.  You can pet and feed the giraffe...


The giraffes were super friendly and inviting!
PHOTO OPPS GALORE!

These life size statues are all throughout the park, creating great photo opps!

I love the settings and the way they really made you feel like you were on an international trip!

An example of the beautiful scenery…


TWO TOED SLOTH!





GOAT PLAYGROUND....



SELF SUSTAINING FARMING!

They grow lettuce at the park in these hydroponic stations!

BE PREPARED TO GET YOUR STEPS IN!

An example of the walkways throughout the park....

The park layout is just beautiful and well-spaced.  You can see the inclines I mentioned.


PUT ANOTHER SHRIMP ON THE BARBIE!
A sweet tree kangaroo napping.  


Another cool interactive part of the zoo was petting and feeding the wallabies.   

Look at the grill on this gator!!!

Thanks so much for stopping in.  Until next time...
Thanks for being a big ass fan.  That's literally the name brand of these fans - "BIG ASS".  

Kimmie



 

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