The Waterhole

September 2018

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What’s New


If you’ve been to the Zoo lately, you’ve probably noticed the hardhat area near Primate World. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has been hard at work creating an exciting new exhibit that will house hippos, African penguins, lemurs and warthogs. We’re happy to announce that the new space, scheduled to open summer 2019, will be called (drum roll, please!) Water’s Edge: Africa.

“We’re excited to provide more interactive hippo and penguin experiences for our guests, which we believe will further inspire our community to support conservation efforts that protect these animals in the wild,” said Cheyenne Mountain Zoo President and CEO Bob Chastain. “The exhibit is also designed to reflect on the importance of water in both human and animal lives, and how precious it can be when it is not plentiful.”

Water’s Edge: Africa is going to be roughly the length of a football field, and will be “swimming” with inspiring, interactive and educational experiences for Zoo visitors.

“The outdoor penguin area will feature an upper pool with a slide down to a lower pool and an outdoor beach, where Zoo visitors can actually mingle with the penguins.” said CMZoo Landscape Architect and Planner Frank Haas. “Inside, the penguins have another pool with a waterfall slide and a viewing area where guests can watch the penguins zip around under water.”

The habitat will also feature a new home for warthogs and an island for lemurs. Additional plans include a large salt water tank, naturalistic plantings and unique viewing areas where visitors can gain new perspectives.

“There’s a really interesting knife-edge pool in our design, which will put the hippos at eye level for our guests,” Haas said. “They’ll be looking directly at the hippos with next-to-no visual obstructions. The idea is to evoke the feeling that you’re a part of the environment, rather than an observer.”

The interactive design also includes a suspension bridge that provides bird’s-eye views of the hippos in their habitat.

“In addition to creating a unique and enriching environment for our guests, we have designed Water’s Edge: Africa with the goal of implementing a hippo breeding program to add to the assurance population of hippos in zoos. Assurance populations are important for species, like hippos, that are experiencing massive drops in numbers in the wild,” said African Rift Valley Animal Care Manager Jeremy Dillon, who will be the animal care manager for Water’s Edge: Africa when it opens. “This habitat will give us the space we need to house a male hippo, in addition to our two girls, Zambezi and Kasai. They’re vacationing at Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri until construction is complete, and we can’t wait to welcome them back.”

Water’s Edge: Africa was designed with wildlife conservation and environmental conservation at the center of the vision. As well as creating a space to help save a species, the exhibit will house its own water treatment center.

“We use about 60,000 gallons of water per day to maintain healthy environments for our animals,” Dillon said. “You can imagine how much water 4,000-pound hippos and a growing waddle of penguins requires. This water recycling system will dramatically reduce that impact on our environment.”

Water’s Edge: Africa is on schedule to open next summer.

Keep up with construction updates here.
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