Share with us in seeing African aquatic animals in a whole new way! Our Making Waves campaign will renovate the homes of our Hippos and Penguins to give guests an extraordinary new view of the life of these amazing creatures, for which Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is known!
Please note: Our Nile hippos, Zambezi (23,) and Kasai (17), are currently on an extended vacation to Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO. They will be gone while a new exhibit is built for them with funds raised from this Making Waves capital campaign.
The older of the two hippos is Zambezi (pronounced zam-BEE-zee). Hippos typically live 35-50 years in captivity, so at 22 years old, Zambezi is in the prime of her life. She was born at the Denver Zoo and came to us at the age of 2. Zambezi is a typical big sister, taking the lead in most things and often bossing her younger sibling around. Mellow and laid back, she is a social hippo and loves to have her tongue rubbed and scratched by her keepers. This was discovered during tooth-brushing sessions. Yes, our hippos regularly have their teeth brushed, and yes, we use big toothbrushes! Zambezi also likes the soft skin behind her ears rubbed.
One of Zambezi’s favorite treats is melon. No delicate slices for this girl – she can fit a whole watermelon in her mouth and crush it in one bite! In the fall, she receives pumpkins as part of her enrichment and enjoys crunching them whole, too. Her favorite toy in the water is a big, 55-gallon barrel that she can roll with her snout.
Our youngest Hippo, Kasai (pronounced Ka-sigh) is an ornery and defiant child. She has finally accepted at the age of 15 that she is the younger sister and is content to let big sis take the lead in most things. She was also born at the Denver Zoo and came to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2002, at the age of 2
Guests can identify Kasai by the large pink spots on her feet. She still shows a bit of her childhood defiance when it comes to teeth-brushing time, which she doesn’t care for, but she’s always appreciative of pats and scratches from her keepers. Kasai also loves melons, but her favorite treat is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In fact, she will eat up to five or six of them during training sessions with her keepers. In the pool, she enjoys playing with big “boomer” balls made of thick, hard rubber.
African Penguins (also known as Black-Footed Penguins) live in groups called colonies. Their impressive underwater speed makes them an easy crowd pleaser. These penguins can swim at an average of about 4mph and can stay under water for up to 2 minutes! We currently have nine African Penguins that make up our colony.
Our colony ranges between the ages of 15 to 22 years. We have five males and four females. Penguins mate for life, so our small colony of penguins has 1 confirmed bachelor! To keep them mentally and physically stimulated, staff provides enrichment, such as fish-sicles (frozen in ice), and things that they can pick up and carry. Baby toys, especially teething rings, are favorite items.
Our most popular penguin, Colorado, can be identified by the connect-the-dot “K” on his chest. He is also our most friendly and outgoing penguin because he has been trained as an outreach animal at the Zoo. Colorado is a bit of a celebrity due to his appearance on local television shows!