History

Spencer Penrose photo standing in front of animal hide

A Long History and Promising Future.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose to house his growing collection of exotic animals. In 1938, after substantial development, Mr. Penrose deeded the Zoo as a non-profit public trust to the people of Colorado Springs. This trust was deemed “for the sole purpose of establishing and maintaining a zoological park to provide recreation, education, conservation and scientific facilities in the field of zoology and related subjects, and to preserve the Zoo in perpetuity for the people of the Pikes Peak region.”

Today, the Zoo has been successful in transforming a visitor’s experience from a passive viewer to an active participant. Visitors are submerged into culture and habitat, inspiring a new respect for the preservation of wildlife through hands-on education and creating a “never to be forgotten” experience.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is currently one of only a handful of accredited zoos in the nation that operates without local tax support. As an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization we depend on admissions, membership dues, corporate sponsors and grants for funding.

Other historical pages of interest; Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun and Historic Carousel.

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More about Spencer Penrose

A Man with Vision.

An influential founder of many important landmarks throughout the Pikes Peak region, Spencer Penrose had vision. Whether he was building new roads or establishing charitable organizations, Penrose was involved in a host of groundbreaking projects.

Beyond that, Penrose had a lifelong interest in animals and was given a bear in 1916. This bear was the beginning of an exotic animal collection that he added to every year. As Penrose’s collection grew, he kept the animals at his ranch and at The Broadmoor Hotel, which he founded. By 1926, Penrose started Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, which eventually became home to his animals and many more.

Discover More Spencer Penrose History

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Mountaineer Train

Mountaineer Train ready to bring passengers up to the Zoo, parked in front of The Broadmoor Hotel

What Once Delivered Visitors Now Welcomes Them.

This futuristic little train used to bring visitors round-trip between The Broadmoor Hotel and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo from 1950 – 1974. After being sold to other organizations and being put out to pasture – literally – the Mountaineer Train’s engine was restored in 2005 and now rests on the only remaining stretch of track at the Zoo’s entrance.

Location: Northern corner of the main Zoo parking lot.

Mountaineer Train engine mounted at Entrance to Zoo parking lot, photo with plaque
 
 

 

 

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Zoo Timeline; past to present

Chronology of Zoo history.

Zoo History timeline from 1916 to present with highlights by year of event as a photo vertical graphic with thumbnail picture illustrations

 

Learn about our future and how we’re growing and evolving for tomorrow!