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5 Inspiring Reasons to Visit Denver Zoo

Note: Denver Zoo is closed to the public until further notice to protect against exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19). You can help offset the cost of care for our animals during this time, by donating now.

With more than 3,5000 animals showcasing 450 species, Denver Zoo is a must-see when in Colorado’s capital city. This outdoor world isn’t just about the wildlife, however. From rides on the carousel to 4D theater shows to Up-Close Animal Encounters, there is something inspiring for everyone. 

Denver Zoo's Newest Arrival: A Baby Rhino
Denver Zoo's Newest Arrival: A Baby Rhino
Learn about the Zoo's all-male herd of Asian elephants.
Learn about the Zoo's all-male herd of Asian elephants.
Feed a giraffe on an Up-Close Animal Encounter.
Feed a giraffe on an Up-Close Animal Encounter.
Visit the Zoo for Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks
Visit the Zoo for Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks
Denver Zoo's Baby Lion
Denver Zoo's Baby Lion
See the active Mandrills on your next visit.
See the active Mandrills on your next visit.
Sea Lions at a Demo
Sea Lions at a Demo
Take your family to Zoo Lights, a Denver tradition.
Take your family to Zoo Lights, a Denver tradition.

1. Enriching Engagements

Each visit to the Zoo provides you with a different way to see animals engaging with the public — maybe today it’s a carcass feeding, tomorrow it could be watching a critter sniff out the scent enrichment around their habitat. You’ll be amazed to see how each species uses its natural behaviors to interact with mentally stimulating activities. Plus, the whole family will benefit from a gander at the animal demonstrations schedule, which happen throughout the day. Find out what it takes to take care of a herd of all-male Asian elephants or how sea lions rely on their adaptations to survive. 

If you’re looking for something a little special, Up-Close Animal Encounters might be the route for you. Go behind-the-scenes into various animal dwellings to interact with these unique creatures on their own terms. Penguins might hop on your feet, rhinos might ask for a scratch, giraffes may expect a lettuce leaf or flamingos might want their photo taken.

2. New and Old Spots

If you’ve visited the Zoo in your lifetime, it’s guaranteed to be a different experience now. Coming spring 2020, Stingray Cove™ is an interactive exhibit where you can touch and feed an array of stingrays and sharks — at their discretion, of course — while they swim carefree in a state-of-the-art environment. It will be home to safe-to-touch breeds, including cownose and southern stingrays and bonnethead, white-spotted bamboo and brown-banded bamboo sharks. The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital, a 22,000-square-foot facility, will revolutionize veterinary care at the Denver Zoo when it opens later in 2020. Guests will be welcome inside the hospital for an elevated view into treatment rooms to see firsthand how the animals are being cared for. 

In between feedings, encounters and viewings, see a show at the immersive 4D Theater. With special effects in the seats and throughout the venue, you will feel like you’re in the film. Or take a trip around the carousel with its hand-carved wooden replicas of some of the Zoo’s most popular residents — the prime seats may be on the baby gorillas. And enjoy lush foliage while spotting waterfowl from the seats of the Denver Zoo Railroad train. 

3. Oh, Babies! 

Downright adorable isn’t a good enough way to describe the new arrivals to the Zoo. Kesi, the mandrillTatu, the African lion cub; and the new greater one-horned rhino calf are growing like weeds and developing their unique personalities. Catch the newest lesser kudus in the Central Ranges habitat or check out Cerah the orangutan in Primate Panorama. You’ll learn why each of these babies is vital to the survival of their vulnerable and endangered groups and how Denver Zoo participates in a national effort to keep these species around for future generations. 

4. Special Events for Everyone

Plan your visit around one of the many events the Zoo holds annually. Nature Connects®, Art with LEGO® Bricks, an award-winning exhibit, returns to this outdoor paradise July 17–Nov. 1, 2020. Placed throughout the Zoo and made entirely of LEGO® bricks, the exhibit invites visitors to connect to nature and the world’s vanishing species through life-size and larger-than-life plant and animal sculptures. Snap a photo with the snow leopard or jeweled chameleon.  

The little tykes in the family will love Boo at the Zoo, where you can celebrate Halloween during the last two weekends of October. Trick-or-treat stations will be set up around the Zoo, and everyone is encouraged to come in their best costume — might we suggest wildlife? 

For night owls, True Colors Safari celebrates the diverse Denver community. Explore a festive world of music, entertainment, food and drink, conversations and animal experiences, all highlighting the LGBTQIA+ community and organizations. 

End the year at Zoo Lights, a Denver holiday tradition. See Denver Zoo in a whole new light, as more than 80-acres of grounds are illuminated with dazzling displays. Grab the family, your friends or your significant other and light it up. 

5. Care About Conservancy

Every visit to Denver Zoo helps support conservation work around the globe. The Zoo manages five field programs on four continents. By visiting, you help fund protection projects throughout the year, sending staff to South Africa to help save abandoned flamingo chicks or to New Zealand to study the territories of the endangered kea. There are even opportunities to help in Colorado, with the Front Range Pika Project, where citizen scientists are helping study the movement of this valuable species. 

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