Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Teen Summer Program has inspired and prepared future biologists and conservationists for decades. Soon, it will welcome new and returning participants for summer 2024. Applications for the highly competitive program for sixth through 12th graders open Thurs., Feb. 1 at cmzoo.org/teenprograms. Applications will only be accepted for two weeks, so nature-loving teenagers should start considering the program now.

From Mon., May 27 through Fri., Aug. 9, 2024, Teen Summer Program participants will work alongside CMZoo staff to interact with animals, guests, keepers and each other. Mabel Kim has been in the Teen Program since the summer before her high school freshman year, and in 2024, she intends to come back for her fourth year.

“Some might assume the Teen Program at the Zoo is all about animals, but it’s one of the richest experiences like this you can get in Colorado Springs,” said Kim. “I’ve learned presentation skills, public speaking, mentoring, writing a resume, interviewing and more. It’s a really fun environment, and we do focus on animals and conservation. Because of this program, I feel prepared to apply for college, internships and jobs.”

In addition to gaining valuable experience working at CMZoo, teen participants learn to be nature’s best stewards with life-changing experiences off Zoo grounds, in Colorado’s wild places and beyond. Teens can expect educational, inspirational experiences, like whitewater rafting, camping, rock climbing, mountain biking, visiting local animal sanctuaries and Associations of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos, and learning to be a leader and an advocate for wildlife and wild places.

“Ultimately, we hope that by offering these experiences that connect the hands, the heart, and the mind to the natural world, these teens will stand up for, and advocate for, the wild places and wild animals of our world,” said Austin Kennedy, CMZoo Extended Education Supervisor. “We focus on leadership training, animal husbandry, interpretation and public speaking, empowerment, and so much more.”

Participants also have the chance to go on an EdVenture Trip with the team, led by EdVenture staff. In 2023, the teens embarked on a six-day off-grid adventure to the wilderness of Glacier National Park. [LINK TO: https://www.cmzoo.org/news/archive/teen-program-inspires-the-next-generation-of-land-and-wildlife-stewards-in-glacier-national-park/] This year, managers are planning for another excursion full of adventure and nature-inspired leadership learning.

“I can’t encourage people enough to apply,” said Kim. “Definitely go for it. You’ll have amazing opportunities with animals, but you’ll also learn real-life and career skills. Plus, you’ll form bonds and make friendships with people who have similar interests, like science, nature, conservation and advocacy.”

EdVenture staff recommends each teen commits to a minimum of 120 program hours for the season. However, to complete the program, there is no minimum or maximum number of participation hours required.

Applications are open Thurs., Feb. 1 until Wed., Feb. 14 at midnight MT. The non-refundable application fee is $25, and no late applications will be accepted. Typically, only one-third of those who apply will be accepted.

After the application period, EdVenture staff conducts interviews with candidates, and ultimately accepts about 100 teens to the summer program. CMZoo’s Teen Summer Program is a tuition-based experience, and scholarships are available. Participation in EdVenture trips requires a separate fee.

If a summer timeline won’t work, consider participating in an off-season Teen Program. The Teen Winter Program runs November through February, with applications opening for two weeks each October. The Teen Spring Program is only open to teens who have participated in a Teen Summer or Winter Program. The spring session runs February through May, with applications opening for two weeks each January.

For more information – and to apply between Feb. 1 and 14 – visit cmzoo.org/teenprograms.

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During the winter months, many Coloradans stay active by enjoying the state’s 300 days of sunshine or embracing the alpine lifestyle and hitting the slopes. For some nature enthusiasts, it can be hard to know where to start in the winter world of outdoor adventure. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s EdVenture team has just the program: Outdoor School!

Outdoor School is a year-round program that includes special winter-themed courses. Our partners at Children’s Hospital Colorado say helping kids stay active, despite colder temperatures and shorter days, has countless mental and physical health benefits.

“As outdoor and environmental educators, we see first-hand the health benefits of spending time outside in nature,” said Russell Friedman, education specialist at CMZoo. “Learners of all ages can enjoy safe, natural settings at the Zoo and at spaces around our community as a way to boost their mental and physical health.”

Studies have shown that spending just 15 minutes outside each day can immensely improve a person’s mental state of mind and overall happiness. Outdoor School’s variety of programs can be both soothing and exciting.

“Whether we are hiking on our Zoo’s behind-the-scenes nature trail, learning about animals by spending time with them or meditating outside, we are providing ways for all our participants to practice healthy habits for mind and body,” Friedman said.

Each course is $24.75 and includes daytime admission to the Zoo that day. In January and February, Outdoor School programming includes nature-driven courses focusing on animals’ winter weather adaptations, animal tracking 101, mindfulness practices in nature and animal habitats for winter. Students learn through hands-on activities and unique nature-based experiences.

No matter the season, there are always fun opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, and the EdVenture team at CMZoo is committed to helping people discover those outlets. Cooler temperatures add to the experience, too.

“With each program, we emphasize the first principle of Leave No Trace, which is ‘Plan Ahead and Prepare’,” Friedman said. “We provide a checklist prior to each workshop so everyone is prepared for time outside, especially during the winter season. We also constantly move throughout the Zoo, so our bodies are staying active and warm. When necessary, we will take learning breaks in many of the Zoo’s heated indoor animal habitats to help connect participants to wild places and our wildlife.”

New Outdoor School programs are added to the schedule throughout the year, so consider letting CMZoo’s EdVenture team help your family members take safe steps into nature in a variety of ways. See current programming and register at cmzoo.org/outdoorschool.

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ANNUAL HOLIDAY LIGHTS CELEBRATION CONTINUES THROUGH MONDAY, JAN. 1, 2024USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards today announced that Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari ranked third in the national Best Zoo Lights category for the fifth year in a row. This is the eighth year running that Electric Safari has ranked in the top ten.

The top ten Best Zoo Lights finalists are, in order of rankings:
1. PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo
2. Lights Before Christmas at Toledo Zoo
3. Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
4. Holiday Nights at Zoo Montana
5. U.S. Bank Wild Lights at Saint Louis Zoo
6. Christmas at the Zoo at Indianapolis Zoo
7. OKC ZOO SAFARI LIGHTS Presented by OG&E
8. Zoo Lights at San Antonio Zoo Powered by CPS Energy
9. Wild Lights at Detroit Zoo
10. WildLights at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s 33rd annual month-long celebration of the season continues through Mon., Jan. 1, 2024 (except Christmas Eve, Sun., Dec. 24), featuring 50 acres of twinkling lights, 90 artisan-made light sculptures and breathtaking nighttime city views. The Zoo’s holiday collection of larger-than-life illuminated animal inflatables returns for its third year and – special for 2023 – the Zoo is adding holiday lights to the sky!

At 7:30 p.m. every night of Electric Safari (weather permitting), guests can see a drone light show from nearly anywhere in the Zoo. The holiday-safari themed show will last around 15 minutes. Get prime viewing spots (first come, first served!) from the elephant boardwalk, Lodge at Moose Lake or Giraffe Plaza.

Electric Safari is the only event in Colorado where you can:

– see over 90 one-of-a-kind light sculptures
– visit select animal exhibits
– hand-feed a giraffe herd ($3 per lettuce bundle or $5 for two bundles)
– watch a nightly holiday-safari themed drone light snow at 7:30 p.m. (weather permitting)
– visit Santa (through Dec. 23)
– explore 50 acres of twinkling lights and dancing light displays
– see larger-than-life illuminated inflatable animals
– cozy up around fire pits and warming stations throughout the Zoo
– get the best nighttime views of Colorado Springs from the side of Cheyenne Mountain

Advance timed tickets are required for both members and non-members. Zoo member tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance. Everyone visiting the Zoo must have their own advance e-ticket, including children age 2 and under. Timed tickets from 4 to 5 p.m. are for Zoo members and their paying guests only. Electric Safari opens to the public at 5 p.m. and the event ends at 8:30 p.m.

Guests can save $5 per ticket by visiting on a non-peak night! See the 2023 Electric Safari pricing calendar, get tickets and learn more at cmzoo.org/electric.

Electric Safari wouldn’t be complete without visiting select animal exhibits. Electric Safari offers paid feeding opportunities with CMZoo’s famous giraffe herd and budgie flock. The hippo building, the giraffe barn, the elephant and rhino barn, the African lion relaxation room, Rocky Mountain Wild (except grizzly bears), Asian Highlands, Scutes Family Gallery and Budgie Buddies are open.

Electric Safari is an important fundraiser for CMZoo, which doesn’t receive any tax support. Your ticket to Electric Safari helps us fund animal care, Zoo operations and improvements, and conservation projects. Please join us in thanking our generous supporting Electric Safari partners, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Toyota, and U.S. Bank.

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2023, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #2 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Since 2008, CMZoo’s Quarters for Conservation program has raised more $4.5 million dedicated to frontline conservation efforts around the world. Of the 238 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just a few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and donations for funding.

It’s that magical time of year when many people search for the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family. Whether you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a truly unique stocking stuffer, these options are sure put a smile on every face on your list.

Plus, when you purchase something from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you know your funds are helping us continue our important work. As a nonprofit that doesn’t receive any tax support, we rely on admission, memberships, events and special programs like these to continue our work.

Animal Art Holiday Ornaments

The Loft animals and their keepers have been painting the perfect stocking stuffers or gifts for your holiday party gift exchange. These 3” x 3” canvases with twine hangers are one-of-a-kind, because they were painted by an animal ambassador! Skunks, birds, reptiles, a ferret and even an opossum added their artistic touches to the ornaments by participating in voluntary training with their keepers. Some animals walk through paint and onto the canvasses, leaving their adorable footprints in a variety of flashy colors. Others slither through the paint and some even hold the paintbrushes themselves! These ornaments are only available for purchase in person – while supplies last – in The Loft, now through the end of Electric Safari.

VIP Tours

If you really want to spoil someone, give them the adventure of a lifetime: a CMZoo VIP Tour! During this private tour, your group of up to five people will experience three behind-the-scenes animal encounters of your choosing, plus a meet-and-greet with one of our ambassador animals in The Loft and a super-sized giraffe feeding. You can help train a sloth, get up-close with the grizzly bears, say hello to the hippos or choose from our many other animal encounter options. Along the way, one of our experienced guides will tell you all about the Zoo, our animals and our conservation impacts around the world. When your tour ends, enjoy the rest of the day at the Zoo, because admission is included. Visit cmzoo.org/viptour to see our animal encounter options, to get all the details and to sign up.

CMZoo Annual Membership

How about a gift that keeps on giving all year long? Memberships can be purchased as gifts! CMZoo members can take advantage of free daytime admission (with advance ticket reservations), discounts on programs and merchandise, free members-only summer nights, free Electric Safari visits in the winter and more. Visit cmzoo.org/membership or email [email protected] for more information.

 

Tickets to Electric Moonlight and Electric Safari

Give the gift of memories made by purchasing tickets to a holiday special event at the Zoo, and be early to the gift-giving season! In December, we have options for an adults-only date night (there will be a lot more than milk and cookies on the menu) or a festive evening on the mountain with the entire family.

Electric Moonlight returns to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on Thurs., Dec. 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. This event is just for our 21-and-up guests, complete with holiday lights, live music and food and drink samples from local vendors, restaurants, distilleries and breweries (while supplies last). Plus, an elf told us that jolly old Saint Nicholas will be there to hear holiday wishes from the grown-ups! Tickets are limited and this event may sell out in advance. Tickets are available at cmzoo.org/em.

Starting Dec. 1, the Zoo opens its gates in the evenings for Electric Safari, where all ages can explore the Zoo and enjoy the wonder of 50 acres of twinkling lights, illuminated enormous inflatable animals, a nightly drone light show and more than 90 handmade light sculptures on display throughout the Zoo. Until Dec. 23, Santa Claus will be at Electric Safari to meet guests and listen to holiday wishes. This event is a magical way to get into the holiday spirit on the side of Cheyenne Mountain, where the views of the city lights below the Zoo can’t be beat. Electric Safari runs Dec. 1-3, 8-23, and Dec. 25-Jan. 1, 2024 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. CMZoo members have access to early-entry tickets from 4 to 5 p.m. Electric Safari is free for members, but everyone needs to reserve an advance timed ticket at cmzoo.org/electric. (Drone show not available on Sat., Dec. 2. Drone show and inflatables are weather dependent.)

Small group events and programs also make great gifts! See all of our options at cmzoo.org/events.

Animal Grams

Do you know someone who would love to open their front door to a skunk, tortoise, ferret, frog or otherwise? Surprise them with a CMZoo Animal Gram! Our EdVenture team will come to your home or workplace with a very special guest: an animal ambassador from The Loft or My Big Backyard. Each Animal Gram includes a 5- to 10-minute visit from an animal and staff, an animal art piece and photo opportunity. Get all of the information at cmzoo.org/animalgrams.

 

Adopt an Animal

Gift an adoption of a hippo, giraffe, moose or another animal of your choosing that we’ll mail to you or a loved one. Our adoption packages start at just $35, but if you’re looking to give an extra special stocking-stuffer check out our Wild Adopt packages ($55-65) to bring home an adorable, cuddly plush of your very own! All of our adoption packages include a certificate of adoption, an animal fact sheet and a photo of the animal at CMZoo. Each adoption directly supports the care of all our animals. Order by 3 p.m. MST on Fri., Dec. 15 to ensure delivery before Sat., Dec. 23, 2023. You can find our array of adoption packages at www.cmzoo.org/adopt.

 

Carve Your Memories in Stone

What’s even better than coming to CMZoo to see your favorite animals? Coming to see your very own tile – and your favorite animals! We recently launched our new blue tiles in Water’s Edge: Africa! Join our new community wall of names and carve your memories into stone. Our tiles offer a unique way to honor, celebrate, and make lasting memories for your loved ones. Each tile purchase also directly supports CMZoo and the care of our animals. For $250, you can personalize a 6-inch by 6-inch porcelain stone tile. Every tile allows your message to be two lines, each line with 12 characters available, totaling 24 letters and spaces (special characters are each an additional $15 fee). You can choose from the following animals to engrave on your tile: hippo, penguin, pelican, lemur, warthog or crane! Create your unique message and purchase your tile at www.cmzoo.org/tiles.

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GUESTS WILL ENJOY FOOD, DRINKS, LIVE MUSIC, VISITS WITH THEIR FAVORITE ANIMALS AND HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON THE MOUNTAIN – Make plans for an adults-only mistle-toast to the season at Electric Moonlight from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 7, at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. There’s nowhere else you can sip cocktails, sample food, enjoy live local music, feed a giraffe and visit Santa in an adults-only atmosphere on the side of a mountain!

Electric Moonlight incorporates all of the magic of Electric Safari, like 50 acres of twinkling lights displays, hand-made light sculptures, enormous animal inflatables, and a drone light show, plus the additions of live music and all-inclusive food and drink samplings (while supplies last). Even Santa himself will be here to listen to grown-ups’ holiday wishes! (Inflatables and drone show are weather dependent.)

Animal demonstrations are back this year! Catch an African lion keeper talk at 6 p.m. in African Rift Valley and a skunk keeper talk at 7 p.m. in The Loft. Select animal habitats will be open for guests to visit, including the giraffe barn, where guests can hand-feed the 16-member giraffe herd for $3 per lettuce bundle or $5 for two bundles.

Attendees can get into the holiday spirit and feel good about purchasing a ticket to this important fundraiser for the Zoo. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo does not receive tax support, so every ticket helps fund animal care, Zoo operations, improvements, conservation and more.

Each Electric Moonlight ticket includes access to most animal areas at the Zoo, live performances by local musicians throughout the Zoo, a souvenir sampling spork and cup, and all-inclusive food and beverage samplings from regional restaurants, breweries, wineries and distilleries (while supplies last). See lists of open animal areas, musicians and attending vendors at cmzoo.org/em.

This event is popular and is subject to selling out. Advance tickets are required, and as of Mon., Nov. 20, there are only a couple hundred tickets left! Don’t wait to secure your spot at the last 21-and-up special event of the year at cmzoo.org/em.

Quick Facts

  • 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 7, 2023
  • Advance tickets are required and must be purchased at cmzoo.org/em.
  • This event is for adults, ages 21 and older, only. No children or infants will be allowed in.
  • Each ticket includes a souvenir sampling cup and fork so guests can sample food and drinks from over 25 stations located throughout the Zoo. Local breweries, distilleries, restaurants, vendors and more will have samples available for guests while supplies last.
  • Live music will be performed throughout the Zoo by local artists Jason Lee Band, John Spengler Trio, Ryan Flores, SPUR and Westrock.

This waste-wise event is supported by Toyota.

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2023, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #2 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Since 2008, CMZoo’s Quarters for Conservation program has raised more than $4.5 million dedicated to frontline conservation efforts around the world. Of the 238 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just a few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and donations for funding.

ADVANCE, TIMED TICKETS REQUIRED FOR ALL SEVEN NIGHTS OF HALLOWEEN FUN – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will feel the Halloween spirit when little ghouls and goblins attend Boo at the Zoo, starting Fri., Oct. 20, 2023. This decades-long Colorado Springs Halloween tradition is a fun way for families to trick-or-treat, enjoy Halloween festivities in a unique environment and support a great cause.

Boo at the Zoo is Oct. 20-22 and 27-29, plus Halloween night, Tues., Oct. 31 from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Advance timed e-tickets are required and available at cmzoo.org/boo. Capacity is limited and some nights are close to selling out.

In addition to visiting select animal exhibits and trick-or-treating, frightfully fun attractions include a lighted pumpkin patch, a kid-friendly spooky haunted house, Ghoulish Graveyard and Pirates Cove. Attendees can also enjoy rides on the Mountaineer Sky Ride, weather permitting.

An elephant-sized amount of candy (4.5 tons) will be handed out at 25+ trick-or-treat stations throughout the Zoo. Candy is purchased from companies that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and have committed to using sustainable palm oil for the protection of orangutan habitats in the wild.

Orangutan fans can support companies that have committed to using responsibly sourced palm oil by downloading the free mobile app, PalmOil Scan. The mobile app allows shoppers to scan product barcodes and see immediately how that company ranks in prioritizing sustainable palm oil. Learn more at cmzoo.org/palmoil.

The Zoo will close for daytime admission on Boo nights at 3 p.m. Boo at the Zoo will go on, rain, snow or shine. Be sure to bundle up on cold nights and enjoy a Colorado evening on the mountain!

  • HALLOWEEN-THEMED ANIMAL ENRICHMENT AND DEMONSTRATIONS:
    Fri., Oct. 20 and Fri., Oct. 27:
    5 p.m. – Elephant Pumpkin Enrichment (inside elephant barn, Encounter Africa)
    6:30 p.m. – African Lion Enrichment (Lion Relaxation Room, African Rift Valley)
  • Sat., Oct 21 and Sat., Oct. 28:
    5 p.m. – Meerkat Enrichment (meerkat yard near African lions, African Rift Valley)
    6:30 p.m. – Hippo Keeper Talk and Feeding (inside hippo building, Water’s Edge: Africa)
  • Sun., Oct. 22 and Sun., Oct. 29:
    5 p.m. – African Lion Enrichment (Lion Relaxation Room, African Rift Valley)
    6:30 p.m. – Wallaby Pumpkin Enrichment (inside wallaby building, Australia Walkabout)
  • Tues., Oct. 31 – HALLOWEEN:
    5 p.m. – Elephant Pumpkin Enrichment (inside elephant barn, Encounter Africa)
    6:30 p.m. – Meerkat Enrichment (meerkat yard near African lions, African Rift Valley)
  • SELECT ANIMAL EXHIBITS ARE OPEN, INCLUDING:
    – Giraffe building
    – African lions
    – Budgie Buddies
    – Wallaby building
    – Encounter Africa elephant/rhino barn
    – Domestic Goat Experience
    – My Big Backyard
    – The Loft
    – Scutes Family Gallery
    – Water’s Edge: Africa

    RESTAURANTS OPEN DURING BOO AT THE ZOO:
    – Grizzly Grill
    – Pizza with a View
    – Elson’s Place
    – Cozy Goat (beverages only)
    – Thundergod Gift Shop

    COSTUME REQUIREMENTS:
    For the safety of all guests, full-face costume masks and costume weapons may not be worn by guests 12 years of age or older. Masks worn by guests 11 years of age and younger must have openings that allow the eyes to be seen and that do not obstruct peripheral vision. Balloons are not allowed inside the Zoo (even as part of a costume) for the safety of our animals and wild animals.

    TRICK-OR-TREAT BAGS:
    Support the Zoo’s efforts to reduce waste by bringing your own trick-or-treat bags! Reusable bags will be available for purchase for $2 at admissions.

    VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:
    Volunteers are crucial to the success and safety of Boo at the Zoo. Positions include handing out or delivering candy, directing traffic and staffing the haunted house. All volunteers must be at least 13 years old. Volunteers ages 13-17 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or school advisor at all times. We will not assign specific positions until the evening of the event. Curious about volunteering for Boo at the Zoo? Visit cmzoo.org/boo.

    FAST FACTS:
    Boo at the Zoo at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
    Dates: Oct. 20-22, 27-29 and 31
    4 to 8:30 p.m.
    Advance timed e-tickets are required.

    www.cmzoo.org/boo

    Boo at the Zoo is possible thanks to our generous partners, Black Bear Diner, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Les Schwab Tire Centers, NAVY FEDERAL Credit Union and Toyota.

    About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

    Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2023, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #2 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by
    USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Since 2008, CMZoo’s Quarters for Conservation program has raised more than $4.5 million dedicated to frontline conservation efforts around the world. Of the 238 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just a few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and
    donations for funding.

Teenagers interested in learning more about nature have a brand-new opportunity at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. A 3-evening course, called Teen Naturalist Training, is tailored to nature-enthused teenagers – and its very first session is on Wednesday, October 11, 2023.
EdVenture program kids with workshop fun activity
“Each evening, we’ll connect with the wild world through different educational experiences indoors and outdoors,” said Austin Kennedy, Extended Education Supervisor. “We’ll make wind chimes, press flowers, make clay imprints while we explore, discuss topics, and learn all along the way.”

During each 3-hour class, teens will learn about the natural world and gain a deeper understanding of Colorado’s wildlife and wild places, which could help future naturalists or nature hobbyists see if any of these specific topics spark a passion or interest in them.

The three-session training program will take a deeper dive into five topics:

  1. Nature Mentoring and Understanding the Role of a Naturalist
  2. Leave No Trace Methodology
  3. Colorado Plants
  4. Colorado Mammals
  5. Colorado Birds

Attendees can sign up for one, two or all three sessions, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 11, Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, 2023. The classes are intentionally kept on the smaller side, with around 16 spots available each night. Longtime members of CMZoo’s Teen Program will attend the course as peer mentors to new attendees, so teens can learn from and relate experiences to each other, too.
Teens on a naturalist project with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo program
“If you’ve ever thought to yourself, ‘I’d really like to learn more about rocks, or birds, native wildlife, and how they work together.’ and you’re a teenager, then this is a great place to start digging deeper,” said Kennedy. “We’re excited to offer this uniquely focused training to teenagers in our community so they can see if these topics might lead to a calling as a naturalist.”

Kennedy and the CMZoo EdVenture team plan to add more opportunities for naturalist training for teens and adults. More information will be available at cmzoo.org/outdoorschool in the coming weeks.

The deadline to register for Teen Naturalist Training is Wed., Oct. 4. For more information and to register for one, two or all three sessions in the series, visit https://www.cmzoo.org/series/teen-naturalist-training-series-1-oct-11-18-25/.

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If Aaron Lippy and Kaitlyn Tullberg, two Teen Program participants at CMZoo, are any indication of the next generation of conservationists – rest assured, the planet is in good hands. The two enthusiastic high school students recently returned from a six-day off-the-grid CMZoo Teen Program adventure in Glacier National Park.

Tullberg and Lippy were in a group of 9 teens led by Austin Kennedy, CMZoo Teen Program supervisor, and other Zoo staff. Their wild adventure was full of brand-new experiences like camping, hiking, and making lasting connections with each other and the wildlife and wild places they explored.

CMZoo’s Teen Program focuses on spending time exploring nature, learning about animals, and understanding other cultures. The program is known for its hands-on educational experiences at the Zoo and in nature, with exploration trips available for Teen Program participants year-round. These summer trips take place annually, and they connect teens to local, national, and international wildlife and wild places. Each destination, adventure, and educational opportunity is intentional, and supports the program’s overall goal to inspire future leaders in conservation and animal care.

“We want to get them immersed into a really wild and protected area to see what can happen when people come together to protect the wild world, and national parks are a great example of that,” said Kennedy. “Giving teenagers, especially, these opportunities to get off their phones and into the natural world is important, and it’s really rewarding to watch their inspiration and excitement grow over the week we spend together.”

The group had an action-packed itinerary. They hiked daily and explored special places, like the National Bison Range, where they saw a black bear, a bald eagle, a lot of bison and the iconic Flathead Lake.

“We learned so much on this trip; it’s kind of insane, actually,” said Tullberg. “We learned about the seven signs of leave no trace, like taking only pictures and leaving only footprints. We learned about endangered species and how we can help protect them by taking action to keep the land wild. I think the overarching theme is being stewards of our environment in all of the ways possible – whether we do that by staying on trails and picking up trash or educating and inspiring others, just like this trip educated and inspired us.”

Some of the teens’ favorite memories were picking wild huckleberries, taking a night swim in the lake, and interacting with the ecosystem through workshops that took place in exciting locations – like in the middle of a stream. But, just sitting around the campfire and bonding over shared experiences was a big part of the adventure, too.

“At this stage in my life and with the careers that I want to have, it’s necessary for me to get out of my shell and camp in the woods, basically,” said Lippy. “I thought this trip would be the perfect opportunity and it really was. We connected with the land and with each other, and it helped me feel more confident relating to other people.”

At the end of each day, the group had their meal together and talked about what they’d learned, or how they interpreted the day and the impact it made. They also bonded as teenagers who are growing up in a world with a lot of distractions.

“To just sit around a fire and just ‘be in the world’ brings out the best parts of people, and these kids don’t get a lot of those opportunities,” said Kennedy. “Who you truly are starts to come out when you’re in the wilderness. I was so proud of this group’s focus on taking intentional time to be still and to figure out who you are at the core without distractions and devices. They’ll always have these special experiences with one another.”

They also studied survival skills, wildlife ecology and more at the Glacier Institute outside of Columbia Falls, Montana. The Glacier Institute is an outdoor education organization that focuses on getting people outdoors and connecting them to the wild world of Glacier National Park. The Glacier Institute is the official education partner for Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest.

If you know a teen who could be interested in connecting with like-minded teens through programs at the Zoo and in the field, check out requirements and opportunities at cmzoo.org/teenprograms.

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HAVE A WILD NIGHT FOR A WORTHY CAUSE AT THIS FUNDRAISING EVENT – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will host its final 21-and-up event of the summer, Tails, Tunes & Tastes, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 31 – and tickets are going quickly. There’s nowhere else you can feed a giraffe, have a drink, enjoy live music and breathe in the fresh evening mountain air. This truly unique event is perfect for a girls’ night out, summer work celebration or date night.

This year, each ticket includes unlimited small plates, so attendees will enjoy delicious bites throughout the night, in addition to two included drinks, live music, visits with Zoo animals and access to cash bars.

Advance tickets are required for members and the general public, and they’re going quickly. Tickets are available now at cmzoo.org/tails. This event is for adults only, 21-and-up.

Attendees will have a wild night on the mountain for a worthy cause. 75¢ from every Tails, Tunes & Tastes ticket goes to CMZoo’s Quarters for Conservation program, which has raised more than $4.5 million for frontline conservation efforts around the world since 2008.

What can you do at Tails, Tunes & Tastes?
– Your ticket includes two drink tickets for use at any bar throughout the event. Cash bars are also available.
– Enjoy unlimited chef-created small plates from our custom Tails, Tunes & Tastes menu at our eateries.
– Enjoy local musicians performing throughout the Zoo.
– Visit your favorite animals.
– Watch the sunset from the mountainside.
– Feed the giraffe herd ($3 per lettuce bundle or $5 for two).
– Ride the Sky Ride (weather dependent; $4 for Zoo members, $5 for non-members).

August’s Tails, Tunes & Tastes musical lineup:
– A Carpenter’s Daughter
– George Whitesell
– John Saunders Band
– John Spengler Duo
– Playing with Smoke
– Red Moon Rounder

Other event details:
– Advance tickets are required. No ticket sales at the front gate.
– Ticket purchase includes 2 drink tickets for use at any bar. Must be used the evening of the event. No outside alcoholic beverages are allowed.
– Unlimited small plates are included with your ticket.
– Most animal areas are open all evening.
– Live musical entertainment throughout the Zoo.
Mountaineer Sky Ride (weather dependent) will have its last ride at 8 p.m. Be in line by 7:30 p.m. ($4 for Zoo members, $5 for non-members). Tickets available at Sky Ride cashier booth.
– Dress for a night of dancing, but remember you will be walking up and down the hills of the Zoo!
– Designate a driver, or better yet, don’t drive at all! Take a taxi or use a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber.

Tails, Tunes & Tastes is presented with support from Cordera and Your Colorado Springs Toyota dealers. Thank you, event sponsors!

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2023, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #2 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Since 2008, CMZoo’s Quarters for Conservation program has raised more than $4.5 million dedicated to frontline conservation efforts around the world. Of the 238 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just a few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and donations for funding.

CMZOO OFFERS TWO MORE DATES FOR FURRY FAMILY MEMBER IN AUGUST
Dog visiting river otter exhibit with their owner during dog days a the Zoo.
The dog days of summer will soon be over, but Dog Days at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are back! Thanks to two successful test days in May and June, CMZoo is welcoming guests and their well-behaved dogs to explore the Zoo again, during two special afternoon and evening Dog Day events in August.

These two additional Dog Days, on Mon., Aug. 14 and Tues., Aug. 29, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., will help the Zoo continue to perfect the best way to give furry family members an opportunity to visit the Zoo that also works best for our animals and families who are visiting without dogs. At Dog Days in May and June, CMZoo staff closely monitored Zoo animal behaviors, guest accountability and visiting dogs’ responses. Overall, it was enjoyed by guests, their dogs and Zoo animals. During Dog Day planning, the team accepted that there would be challenges, as there typically are during the development of any new program or event, but Dog Days went even better than we could have hoped.

“We can support healthy animal behaviors by providing a changing environment with diverse enrichment opportunities,” said Rick Hester, curator of animal behavior at CMZoo. “When we do this well, we observe animals behaving in varied ways to achieve different goals, including some of the behaviors and outcomes that appear to be most important to their species in the wild environment.”
Dog visiting Mexican wolf exhibit with their owner during dog days a the Zoo.
Service dogs are always welcome at the Zoo, so seeing a dog was not an entirely new experience for animals that live at the Zoo. But, service dogs behave differently than a family pet, and they visit in much smaller numbers.

Most Zoo animals did not behave any differently than they do on a normal day. Others were excited for a short time, and then returned to their normal behaviors. Some animals, like ring-tailed lemurs and meerkats, noticeably strengthened their bonds as a group.

“Meerkats are well known for their sentinel antipredator behaviors, observed in the wild and in human care,” said Hester. “During both Dog Days, we observed the meerkats working together, presumably with the goal to remove dogs from their view. The meerkats would huddle together and approach a dog, which is called ‘mobbing.’ All the dogs would eventually move away as their group would walk on and the meerkats, having accomplished their goal, would resume other activities like foraging for food. From the perspective of the meerkats, they were successful!”
Dog visiting African lion exhibit with their owner during dog days a the Zoo.
African lions and mountain lions were active, seeking opportunities to stalk and even pounce at the guest dogs. Giraffe were more interested in their daily guest lettuce feeding. Rocky Mountain goats perched high in their rocky cliffs to observe. Kwisha, a Western lowland gorilla, watched the dogs intently and calmly, as did African penguins from their indoor underwater viewing pool. By the afternoon, most of the Zoo animals were back to their normal activities.

“We’re continuing to monitor the behavior of our animals closely to better understand how Dog Days impact their behavior,” said Hester. “Our observations so far suggest that Dog Days, at some frequency, could play a role in meeting our enrichment goals for many species and individuals at the Zoo.”

The team is hoping to provide fun visits for our guests and maintain a level of novelty with the experience for Zoo animals. With that balance in mind, the Zoo added only two more Dog Day dates to the calendar, for now. On Mon., Aug. 14 and Tues., Aug. 29, the Zoo will stay open late for Dog Days until 6:30 p.m. A limited number of Dog Day tickets will be available for purchase at 3:30, 4, 4:30 and 5 p.m. on both days.

Zoo buildings, attractions and amenities will be open until 6:30 p.m., and Zoo animals will be out and about, just as they are during normal daytime visits, with a few exceptions for safety. Every person and every dog coming to the Zoo must have an advance timed e-ticket, available now at cmzoo.org. Dogs must have a designated dog ticket to enter the Zoo. Human tickets will not be honored for dog admission. Guests who would prefer to visit the Zoo without the company of canines are welcome to visit during the day, before dogs’ first allowed timed entry at 3:30 p.m.

Giving guests amazing experiences and providing excellent animal welfare are CMZoo’s top priorities, so it has been especially rewarding to see this new offering hit both of those marks at the same time.

For more information, visit cmzoo.org/DogDays.

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