2300 Steele St., Denver
HOURS: Oct. 1–Mar. 31 daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.,
Apr. 1–Sept. 30 daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
COST: $9–11 adult, $5–7 child, $7–9 senior
The Denver Zoo is insanely popular with tourists and residents alike. Like many modern-day zoos, the Denver Zoo is trying to make its animal habitats look and feel more natural and its residents look less like caged wild animals.
There are 29 primates found in the seven-acre Primate Panorama, and Predator Ridge offers 14 different animal species from Africa, including lions and hyenas. The African Kraal and Lorikeet Adventure are interactive animal exhibits where visitors can pet goats or feed the birds.
In addition to the 4,000 animals packed into this 80-acre park within City Park, the zoo is pulling in crowds with features beyond the mammals. A huge annual draw is ZooLights—when nearly half the zoo is illuminated with sparkling and colorful lights during the holidays. Zoo-goers are treated to a glimpse of whatever nocturnal animals are out, as well as the sounds of choirs singing, a Kwanzaa performance, live ice sculpture carving, and fire dancers.
The best time to visit the zoo is generally mid-afternoon, when school groups have left. In winter, plan for time inside the hot and humid Tropical Discovery—where there are fish, turtles, snakes, bats, and Komodo dragons.
For a relaxing break from animal viewing, ride the zoo’s Endangered Species Carousel (children and adults can choose from 48 hand-carved zoo animals or chariots) for a nostalgic turn. There is an additional cost of $2 to ride the carousel. On the carousel, look for the mother polar bear and two bear cubs to ride, which were made especially for the zoo in honor of the zoo’s most famous animal residents, Klondike and Snow. The infant cubs were hand-fed and raised by zoo staff and have since moved to another zoo.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition