The Denver Zoo is a world-class attraction in the heart of Colorado’s capital. From lions to elephants, polar bears to Komodo dragons, it has more than 700 animals and a campus of 80 acres.
The Zoo is a place of discovery, adventure and fun for all ages. The zoo is open 365 days of the year and offers a variety of family attractions including the Mountaineer Sky Ride, carousel, animal demos and more!
Founded in 1896 by Thomas S. McMurry, a mayor of Denver from 1895 to 1899, Denver Zoo is known for its animal collection and naturalistic design. Unlike most other American zoos, which housed a motley mix of wildlife, Denver Zoo focused on preserving the native species of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains.
Early zoo leaders articulated a vision of preserving the wild animals of the state and started collecting elk, bison, bighorn sheep, moose, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and foxes from Colorado’s landscape and bringing in exotic animals like Chinese pheasants. It was also the first American zoo to employ Carl Hagenbeck’s revolutionary concept that people should be able to see animals in natural habitats without bars or fences.
Today’s zoo features more than 700 animal species and thoughtful enclosures that do their best to mirror their native habitats. The zoo has a huge, outdoor campus with wide paths that make sure you see the entire animal community.
Some exhibits are more interactive than others, such as Stingray Cove, where you can touch, feel and feed cownose rays, white-spotted and brown-banded bamboo sharks, southern stingrays, shovelnose guitarfish and bonnethead sharks in an 18,000 gallon shaded open-air aquarium. Other exhibits that provide guests with a different perspective on life at the zoo are Northern Shores, Bird World and Tropical Discovery.
Northern Shores, opened in 1987, gives visitors an up-close view of seals, sea lions and polar bears. The zoo’s largest exhibit, Bird World, opened in 1975 and is home to a variety of birds.
Lorikeet Adventure, a large mesh tent where you can interact with and feed rainbow, scarlet-breasted, coconut and blue-streaked lorikeets, is a highlight. The Avian Propagation Center is where Denver Zoo provides state-of-the-art facilities for breeding and raising all types of birds.
A walk through the grizzly bear habitat, Harmony Hill, will bring you close to the zoo’s rescue grizzlys and educate you about the importance of living in harmony with bears in the wild and in your own backyard. You’ll also want to visit Predator Ridge with a pride of lions and Primate Panorama where you’ll see fun-loving orangutans.
The zoo is also a place to learn about animal health and wellness, with the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital, staffed by veterinarians and animal caretakers. You can also join a Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the hospital, where you’ll get an intimate glimpse at how your money is spent to keep the animals healthy and happy.