Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Asks for Community Support: Capital Campaign Will Build Dynamic New Exhibit

June 20, 2017

— Upcoming exhibit will feature African penguins, hippos, and more, but we need your help! —

Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is asking for the public’s help to “fund the flock” and help complete our Making Waves capital campaign to build a dynamic new exhibit for endangered African penguins, hippos and much more. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and one of very few accredited zoos in the country that receives no tax support, the support of the Colorado Springs community is vital to the Zoo’s continued ability to upgrade our facilities.

The $10.4 million campaign is currently over 95 percent funded, but we still need the community’s help to “flock to the finish” of this incredible effort. Our Colorado Springs community regularly rallies behind the Zoo, and we need their help now more than ever so we can bring home our hippo girls, Zambezi and Kasai, who are currently vacationing at Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri. We’re asking for the community’s help in raising the remaining $480,000 and make a hippo-sized splash for these amazing animals.

The new exhibits will take the place of and expand upon our nearly 60-year-old, soon-to-be demolished Aquatics building. Not only will this dynamic new space be hip for hippos, it will also improve upon the Zoo’s carbon footprint and sustainable water use. In the old exhibits, we were using 60,000 gallons of water per day to maintain healthy environments for the animals residing in the Aquatics building. We know we can do better, so our new hippo exhibit will have a state-of-the-art filtration system that will drastically reduce our use of water.

The exciting exhibit space will house:

  • Our two Nile hippos, Zambezi and Kasai, as well as room for up to five hippos total – we plan to welcome a male and are hopeful for future hippo babies.
  • A new flock of around 18 African penguins. Our hope is that the flock will grow through successful breeding and chick rearing in our improved facility.
  • A lemur island in the middle of the hippos’ indoor/outdoor water exhibit. Guests will learn more about this endangered species and watch them swing, climb and play in a tree-filled area.
  • Gazelles will be featured adjacent to the hippos’ outdoor grazing area.
  • Saddle-billed storks and other bird species will live alongside the gazelles.
  • A suspension bridge will lead to a nature-themed play area for adventurous guests.

“This exhibit is absolutely going to be one-of-a-kind,” said Zoo President & CEO Bob Chastain. “Not only will guests be able to see our hippos from a whole new perspective, they’ll also get the opportunity to share the same space with African penguins and come away caring even more for this endangered species. Add to that the other featured species and nature play area, and this dynamic exhibit truly has it all.”

In addition to the new animal homes being funded through the Making Waves capital campaign, a new home for our EdVenture programs and new ADA guest restrooms will also be built using funds from the campaign. The new complex will house ADA-accessible restrooms on the lower level, and the upper level will house space for our growing EdVenture staff and programs. This new complex will also free up a location near the front gate for our Guest Services operations, which will provide an enhanced ability to respond to the needs of our approximately 780,000 attendees per year.

With help from our courageous co-chairs, Ann and Tom Naughton and Carol and John Kleiner, the Zoo has raised $9.9 million from individuals and foundations. Of that amount, $1.5 million was generously donated by El Pomar Foundation, through the Anna Keesling Ackerman Fund and the Freda Hambrick Fund.

“The Trustees have supported Cheyenne Mountain Zoo since 1939. Today, the Zoo attracts well over 750,000 visitors a year and is a national leader in innovative exhibits. The Trustees are proud to continue their support,” said El Pomar Foundation Chairman and CEO William J. Hybl.

Other leadership gifts include contributions from the Harold W. and Mary Louise Shaw Foundation and the Lane Family Foundation.

“We truly can’t thank these donors enough for their major support of this campaign,” said Chastain. “Without these leadership gifts, our new exhibits would not be possible.”

To learn about the Making Waves campaign and how to contribute, please visit:

A Dropbox link to Making Waves images and exhibit renderings can be found here:

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s ONLY mountain zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hope that guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 230 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just nine operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues and donations for funding.