Meet the Animals

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Meet the Animals

We’re building new exhibits for our hippos and penguins to replace the old and outdated building. The new exhibit will improve their environment and support successful breeding programs for both species, while giving our guests extraordinary new ways to view their daily lives. Nile hippos and African penguins face surmounting threats in the wild, so it’s important that we try to inspire people to take conservation action on behalf of these, and other, species.

Please note: Our Nile hippos, Zambezi (24,) and Kasai (17), are currently on an extended vacation to Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, MO. Our African penguin flock has also moved to another AZA-accredited facility. They will be gone while a new exhibit is built for them with funds raised from this Making Waves capital campaign.



The word hippopotamus literally means river horse, but hippos are more closely related to pigs. They are native to Africa and can weigh up to 4,000 pounds. They sport massive jaws and tusks, and are equally at home on land or in water. In a word, they are IMPRESSIVE!

Zambezi and Kasai are our resident hippopotami. Zambezi (pronounced zam-BEE-zee) is 24 years old and her favorite treats are melons. She loves to have her tongue rubbed and scratched by her keepers, which was discovered during tooth-brushing sessions to keep her teeth healthy.

Kasai (pronounced Ka-sigh) is 17 years old and has been with us since the age of 2. She is Zambezi’s little sister, and she loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You can identify Kasai by the large pink spots on her feet.

Hippos typically live 35-50 years in captivity, so Zambezi and Kasai are in the prime of their lives. Since captive hippos are a bit of a rarity (there are only about 87 on exhibit across the country), we would like to implement a captive hippo breeding program at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. But first, we need the space to house a male hippo. Fortunately, our new exhibit will be large enough to accommodate an entire hippo family!


African penguins (also known as black-footed penguins) are quite zippy in the water. They can swim an average of 4 mph and can stay underwater for up to two minutes, making them a crowd favorite at the Zoo. Unlike their cold climate cousins, they are native to the warm, rocky coasts of South Africa. The species has recently been added to the endangered species list due to loss of habitat – the same coasts they inhabit are becoming inundated by tourists. It’s important that zoos are able to successfully breed African penguins to help ensure species survival and to bring awareness to their plight in the wild.

We believe our efforts to breed this endangered species will improve when their new exhibit is completed. Better indoor ventilation, as well as their own outdoor beach, will give newborn chicks a better chance of survival. Our original penguin colony left for the New York Aquarium in April, but a new colony will arrive in time for the exhibit’s opening in Fall 2019.



Joining our hippos and penguins in their new exhibit will be lemurs (on their own island!), warthogs, and lots of opportunities to get up-close-and-personal with a number of amazing species. It will truly be a mixed species experience for our guests.




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