Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to Demolish Aquatics Building in Preparation for Upcoming Hippo & Penguin Exhibit

August 16, 2017

Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is excited to announce the next step toward building a brand-new exhibit for hippos, penguins and other species: the demolition of our 58-year-old Aquatics building. The building was constructed in 1959, the same year Alaska and Hawaii were proclaimed as states.

The new exhibit is being funded through our $10.4 million Making Waves capital campaign. A demolition ceremony to commemorate the occasion will take place at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 23. Media and the public are invited to attend.

Longtime Zoo construction partner GE Johnson will manage both the demolition and the construction of the new exhibit. They will be on-hand for the ceremony with demolition machinery that will begin the initial stages of taking down the existing building. We will demolish portions of the back side of the building during the ceremony.

“It is an honor to return to the Zoo to work on this one-of-a-kind project that will provide a new, sustainable home for the hippos and penguins to enjoy,” said GE Johnson CEO Jim Johnson.

Preparations for this much-anticipated demolition have been underway for more than a year. In August 2016, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo sent our two Nile hippos, Zambezi and Kasai, on “vacation” to Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri. Other species that previously lived in the building moved to different parts of our Zoo, or they found new homes at other accredited zoos around the country. We are excited to complete this next step, which will get us closer to bringing our hippo girls home and providing a beautiful, conservation-themed exhibit for our community and visitors to enjoy.

Additionally, every effort is being made to save and relocate the hippo tile mosaic on the side of the Aquatics building. This mosaic is original to the building and is a beloved art piece that our Zoo construction team is working hard to save and then display in the upcoming exhibit.

In order to make the new exhibit possible, key community partners and donors have been contributing to the $10.4 million Making Waves capital campaign. There is still $237,000 that needs to be raised to reach our goal, and we are looking for additional community support for the remaining funds.

Zoo President and CEO Bob Chastain is excited for the demolition, as it symbolizes progress – which is a quality that he wants Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to be known for.

“We try to provide the public with something brand new and exciting every few years, so we are keeping the trend going,” Chastain said. “Constant improvement and progress are part of our recipe for success here at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This exhibit is going to be expansive, functional and sustainable, and – best of all – we will get to bring our hippos back home.”

Chastain and Johnson will start the ceremony with brief remarks before the initial demolition begins.

Not only will this new space be ideal for hippos, it will also improve upon the Zoo’s carbon footprint and sustainable water use. The new hippo exhibit will have a state-of-the-art filtration system that will 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 we 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.

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.

Here is a Dropbox link featuring photos and construction renderings: