8/24/2009 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Review: The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is America’s highest zoo at 6800 ft built into the mountains just outside the heart of Colorado Springs. This zoo packs an incredible punch, the lay out is brilliant and the collection is superb! Natural barriers are the most common separator and every exhibit has more than one vantage point. I don’t often find myself in Colorado Springs, but I’d certainly return if I did!
Photographability: It’s almost as if they considered photographers when they designed each exhibit, clean sightlines, front of exhibit enrichment and multiple vantage points. Then again, taking photographers into consideration is the same as considering overall viewing for visitors. Bravo Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, not once did I approach an exhibit and say, ah, no way. The great ape exhibits are bit dark, but the windows were clean, so it’s a challenge but not unsurmountable.
Highlights: NINETEEN giraffes is an unbelieveable highlight. Not even in Kenya had I seen such a large herd. The exhibit was excellent, yard after yard with clumps of giraffes at the front of the exhibit. Giraffe crackers for a reasonable fee were a success, the giraffes approached to eat them. Again, lots of different vantage points and the giraffes were SO close! As if the giraffes weren’t enough, two frolicking zebras were fascinating, and the splashing grizzlies at the front of the exhibit were super exciting to watch. And a baby orangutan too!
Lowlights: I don’t usually read signs, but the signage was pretty awful and often didn’t match up with the animal in the exhibit. There may have been a rotation going on, but that wasn’t clear either, my familiarity with the various primates and other four footed furries prevented my friends from mistaking a coati for a red-ruffed lemur. (the guests aren’t dumb, you’d just think to trust a sign) You look for a coati differently than you’d look for a lemur. I collect flat magnets with the zoo logo, their magnet collection was awful and that was a huge disapointment given the zoo was so excellent.
Pleasant Surprises: The whole zoo was a pleasant surprise! I’d always heard about the Denver Zoo, and this zoo is so close to Denver, yet so different and so good! The giraffes were a pleasant surprise, the website indicates they have giraffes, but nineteen giraffes, WOW. No flamingos, I can’t think of a zoo I’ve been to recently that didnt have flamingos, but I’ve never been to a zoo with 19 giraffes!
Would I Return?: Yes, if I was in Denver visiting friends over a weekday when they had work, sure, but there is so much else to do in Colorado and I’m not sure I’d ask them to drive the 80 miles south to visit again. If you are in Colorado Springs, make it a destination!
Rating: 10 (out of 10)