SOURCE: Denver Zoo

May 21, 2015 18:23 ET

Denver Zoo Offers Summer of Fun Beginning Memorial Day Weekend

Be a Zookeeper Zone, Giraffe Encounter, Nature Connects, Art With LEGO® Bricks and Animal Adventures Await Guests

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - May 21, 2015) - Denver Zoo has a summer packed full of fun ways for visitors to connect with animals, both of the real and toy brick variety. The season includes the debut of a new way to interact with giraffes, the opening of a special area for visitors to learn about zookeepers and an exhibit made of LEGO® brick sculptures. Guests can also sign up for the Zoo's Animal Adventures programs for behind the scenes tours and the chance to find themselves nose to beak with an African penguin or get the inside scoop on elephants. All of these exclusive opportunities will have participants feeling like insiders, with memories to last a lifetime.

The season kicks off on Memorial Day weekend with the return of the Zoo's popular Wildlife Show with its animal stars encouraging guests to connect with animals at the Zoo, their pets at home and animals they observe in nature. New to the show this year is Charlie, an 11-month-old Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. The charismatic newcomer has lots of energy and has already delighted visitors in the show's dress rehearsals.

Guests of all ages can pick up a "Photo Buddy" card at each performance and are encouraged to take photos with it when interacting in nature throughout the summer. They can then share their photos and stories through Denver Zoo's Wildlife Show Photo Buddy Contest before September 15 at www.denverzoo.org/photobuddycontest and be entered to win a behind-the-scenes tour for four.

Early in the summer, the Zoo will unveil Giraffe Encounter, Made Possible By Toyota, allowing guests to bond with the Zoo's reticulated giraffes from within their yard. During three feeding hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., guests can purchase a token to enter a platform in the back of the giraffe yard to feed lettuce to resident giraffes Dikembe, Kipele, Masika and Heshimu. Staff members and volunteers will also be present to facilitate educational interpretation of giraffes and their behavior. This opportunity will be available daily, weather permitting. Although the official date this experience will open to the public is pending, due to construction and giraffe readiness, it is expected to open in late June.

Also opening this summer is the Zoo's new "Be a Zookeeper Zone," an interactive activity area that will allow children ages 2 - 10 and their adults a chance to learn about zookeepers. Located in the old pachyderm yard, the zone will feature three different exhibits and a presentation area to immerse kids in up close views of education program animals and their personal animal keepers. Daily activities are anticipated through Labor Day. Below is a list of what guests can expect.

  • A new llama yard will feature two of these South American animals. Guests will learn about these friendly, familiar animals and how zookeepers take care of them. Staff will be walking the llamas around the zoo in designated areas and interacting with guests.
  • The Enrichment Enclosure will allow staff to provide novel, outdoor experiences to a rotating list of education mammals and birds.
  • An Interactive Animal Space will allow children to use their senses to investigate small education animals like guinea pigs and box turtles, and then create enrichment or design temporary habitats and see what these animals prefer.
  • Presentations by zookeepers about their work and their animals will be at the heart of this exhibit. This space will also be used by teen volunteer animal handlers as they highlight Denver Zoo's excellent animal care to young guests with their animals.

Beginning August 7, the Zoo welcomes "Nature Connects, Art with LEGO® Bricks," by Sean Kenney, brought to you by The Goddard Schools. This award-winning, traveling exhibit features life-size, and even some larger than life, animal and plant sculptures created using LEGO bricks. More than 35 sculptures will be scattered throughout the Zoo, representing animals people can find in both North America and abroad. These include a 400-pound bumblebee, a hummingbird with an eight-foot wing span and a full-scale, African lion at the main gate. In addition to showing guests how they connect with animals and nature through art, Zoo staff members hope the exhibit will build a fondness among children for science, technology, engineering and math. The exhibit closes on November 1 and is free with Zoo admission.

Guests can also explore the Zoo like never before with the return of the Zoo's summer Animal Adventures programs, running from June through August. These programs provide guests with one of a kind experiences by combining up close animal encounters, intimate keeper interactions and guided tours.

Summer Animal Adventures include:

  • Penguin Encounter
    Enjoy a guided tour through Bird World, presented by Frontier Airlines, and get a behind-the-scenes peek at how Denver Zoo cares for hundreds of birds. After spending time in the kitchen as animal care staff prepare diets, waddle your way into the world of penguins to interact with one of these lovable creatures and hear from one of our animal care experts about what it takes to care for these unique birds.
  • Elephant Encounter
    Get to know more about Denver Zoo's beloved elephants while discovering a different side of Denver Zoo's newest exhibit, Toyota Elephant Passage. Participate in an elephant training session after their daily demonstration, and then go behind the scenes and gain some insider knowledge from the animal keepers who care for these unique, charismatic creatures every day.
  • Great Apes Encounter
    Begin your adventure with a walking history of Denver Zoo as you make your way to Primate Panorama. Then, discover the wild world of great apes firsthand from the keepers that care for these intelligent and charismatic animals. For the grand finale, you'll have a rooftop view of the Zoo's resident orangutans and gorillas that few get to experience while uncovering the secrets of their fascinating behavior.
  • Tropical Discovery Meet and Greet
    For lovers of reptiles, frogs and fish! Take a one of a kind look into Tropical Discovery, home to all things slithery, slimy and scaly. You'll be transported into an exotic rainforest habitat that is home to more than 300 species and visit two different behind the scenes areas; outside the Komodo dragon exhibit for a face to face visit with one of the large lizards, and a second area that is the keeper's choice! It may be a bird's eye look into our 16,000 Pacific Reek habitat or meeting a frog thought to be extinct in the wild. Each experience is different, so an adventurous attitude is recommended!
  • Backstage Experience
    Our BIGGEST experience for the Zoo lover in your family. Take a 3-hour guided tour through our Education animal collection where you might touch a turtle, spend time with snakes, laugh with a kookaburra or be tickled by a tamandua's tongue! Then be dazzled by the stars of our summer Wildlife Show, such as colorful parrots, majestic raptors, man's best friend and even a North American porcupine! Your group will have front row seats and one lucky member will get to participate in the show. Finish with a tour of Tropical Discovery, where you may come face to face with a Komodo dragon.
  • Backstage Experience Junior
    This streamlined version of the Backstage Experience hits many of the same high points in half the time, at 90 minutes, and is perfect for groups with younger children.
  • Animal Care and Training Experience
    Participants will receive a behind the scenes tour of their choosing, either at the Gates Education Animal Center or the Wildlife Show, and learn all about what it takes to care for and train some of the Zoo's amazing animals by participating in activities such as preparing their diets, weighing them or assisting with animal demonstrations or shows.

To learn more about Animal Adventures, their availability, and to register, please visit http://www.denverzoo.org/animal-adventures.

About Denver Zoo:Denver Zoo brings informal science education to life, providing a unique learning experience that sparks an interest in the natural world for visitors and program participants alike. Home to 4,300 animals representing more than 600 species, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care.

A leader in green action, Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species by attaining the highest environmental standards. Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in about 600 animal conservation projects in 62 countries on all seven continents.

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Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Tiffany Barnhart
    720-337-1444
    Sean Andersen-Vie
    720-337-1418