Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh MY... "Zoo Keeper" for the day at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
I took a little journey down a yellow brick road called i25 and found myself at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, one of the most unique zoos that I have witnessed and their name is pretty suggestive- a zoo on a mountain. Situated southwest of downtown Colorado Springs, this zoological park sits at an elevation of 6,714 feet above sea level making it the highest zoo in America- welcome to the mile high zoo. With its distinctive mountainside setting, it’s perfectly suited to showcase the unique Colorado wildlife in its natural setting and covers over 140 picturesque acres that houses 750 animals, 350 different species with 30 endangered species. Much like Dorothy, landing in a world where whimsical creatures of mystery come to life, my dream became a reality when I landed the opportunity to be “Zoo Keeper ” for the day and happy to say that I now have experience caring for lions, tigers, and bears. The animal keeper territory that I worked in Rocky Mountain Wild/Asian highlands, comprised animals such as moose, wolves, mountain lions, lynx, river otters, grizzly bears, Amur tigers, Amur leopards and Asiatic black bears. Although I fell in love with all the animals I encountered, I was enchanted by my interactive one-on-one experiences with Mountain lions, Amur tigers, and Grizzly bears and pleasantly surprised by their well tempered yet playful personas. On my encounter with two Grizzly bears (Digger and Emmet) I was immersed in their day-to-day husbandry that included feedings, nail trimmings and teeth/tongue brushing. In an exhilarating yet totally safe experience, I allowed Mr. Digger to lick my hand during his teeth cleaning, watch my bravery in action in the video down below!
Above all, the most incredible encounter that I had was with Chewy the tiger as this big kitty captivated my heart with his sweet persona and humorous ways. This endangered tiger thrives on attention by sounding off his Chewbacca like sounds while showing off his playful and whimsical personality, it’s no wonder why he’s named after the famous Stars Wars character. My enriching experience included training him to stand up by enticing him with food while saying the simple command “Up”. Watch it in the video below! While I certainly enjoyed my time sing-singing my way through this wild world adventure, the Zoo keeper job was no piece of cake as some of the physically demanding duties included: preparing their meals; monitoring their health; preparing/maintaining exhibits, and animal training/enrichment- I now have new-found appreciation for the Zoo keepers as they passionately work hard to care for these wild animals of the west.
As I was swept away to explore the wonders of the wild in a different kind of Emerald city, Cheyenne Zoo impressed upon me the diversity of animals, engaging exhibits and irresistible attractions.Though this journey transported me to exotic places around the globe, I discovered there’s no place like home that is, my Pet Care Furever home, there where the animals are domestic and safe to snuggle.
Interesting history & facts about Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Business man Spencer Penrose was given a gift- a live bear in 1916 which inspired him to collect animals
Animals were housed at Penrose's Broadmoor Hotel until a monkey bit a hotel guest
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was founded in 1926 to house the collection of exotic animals
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was ranked #4 best zoo in North America by USA Today.
On August 6, 2018, the zoo was hit by fast-moving and unexpected severe weather that brought baseball-sized hail. The staff was praised in national media and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for their use of the incident command system to swiftly move animals and visitors indoors
The exhibit Encounter Africa opened at a cost of $13.5 million. The Encounter Africa exhibit is home to African cape porcupines, African elephants, black rhinoceros, and meerkats.The exhibit received special recognition at the 2014 AZA Honors and Awards event
Conservation: The zoo breeds endangered animals such as black-footed ferrets, Wyoming toads, mountain tapirs and Mexican gray wolves. The zoo participates in over 30 Species Survival Plan programs
Attraction: Mountaineer Sky Ride is an open-air, ski lift style ride above the Rocky Mountain goat, grizzly bear and Amur tiger exhibits
And finally....Cheyenne Mountain is known for its large and prolific giraffe herd-200 giraffes have been born at the zoo since 1954. I had the opportunity to feed them!