June 24, 2010


Three members of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff just returned from a three-week visit to Borneo and Sumatra, the only remaining spots on the planet wild orangutans are still found. CMZoo Vice President Tracey Gazibara, Animal Care Manager Dina Bredahl and Primate Keeper Mandy Hollingsworth made this important fact-finding journey to learn more about the major threats affecting orangutans and their wild habitat.

Through their research, the objectives of their trip included finding out the “ground truth” on the Palm Oil Crisis in Borneo and Sumatra near areas with known orangutan populations. They also researched possible solutions to the major threats facing orangutans, and how the Palm Oil Crisis is affecting the indigenous people of the regions.  The three Zoo representatives are now working to build a media library of the sights and sounds of the areas to help with the Zoo’s on-going Palm Oil awareness campaign.



The CMZoo Indonesia travel team will present their findings, share photos and talk one-on-one about their trip.

July 10 from 6:30pm – 9pm - Primate World at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo



Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s President and CEO Bob Chastain headed back into the jungles of Panama for the fourth expedition of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation (PARC) Project.  Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a founding partner in this international initiative to save amphibian species in Panama from the encroaching chytrid fungus (Chytridiomycota).  During this expedition into the jungles of Panama, they will be collecting from a new area, South-western Darién, Panama, and focusing one specific species, the Atelopus certus.  This species is ranked as the highest priority because it is endangered due to projected populations declines greater than 80% in 3 generations.  There are currently no known Atelopus certus in captivity, therefore the entire population is at risk of contracting the chytrid fungus. 

Dr. Della Garelle, CMZoo’s Director of Conservation, said, “The goal of this trip is to collect at least 20 males and 20 females if possible.  That would be a huge success for the PARC Project.”  Chastain and his group will be hiking to the area called the ‘Toad Mountains,’ more than 10 hours inland.  They will be without shelter for the duration of the trip.  This fourth expedition will take them to the most remote area of Panama they have seen yet.

For up-to-date information and journal entries from Chastain please visit the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Frog Blog at


Additional Background Information:

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Palm Oil Crisis

The increased demand for palm oil, which is obtained from the fruit of the oil palm tree and can be grown only in tropical environments, is fueling destruction of the rainforest habitat of Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, pushing those endangered species even closer to extinction. Estimates show that if something isn't done soon to stop the spread of palm oil plantations into the forests that harbor these orangutans, they will be extinct in ten years.

Supply and demand pressures are driving the production of palm oil up to an all-time high. Found in cookies, crackers, shampoo, skin care and beauty products, pet food, and many other products, palm oil is now the second most widely produced edible oil. It is also found in a wide array of products sold in natural food stores. And it is being investigated as a possible fuel alternative. 

You can read entries from their journey on the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Palm Oil Crisis Blog at  For more information about the Palm oil crisis, the new ice cream debut at MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream and Treatery, Swingin’ Orangutan Shindig, or the Swinging in the Rainforest event please visit or email Lauri Armstrong at

Amphibian Rescue and Consevration Project

The mission of the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is to rescue amphibian species that are in extreme danger of extinction throughout Panama. The project’s efforts and expertise are focused on establishing assurance colonies and developing methodologies to reduce the impact of the amphibian chytrid fungus so that one day captive amphibians may be re-introduced to the wild. Project participants include Africam Safari, ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Defenders of Wildlife, Houston Zoo, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Summit Municipal Park and Zoo New England.