Spending time in nature can help reduce stress and trigger happiness! Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is offering small-group programs that foster connections with nature, the outdoors and each other. Through hands-on interactive experiences, classes will engage the whole person – physically, mentally and emotionally – and build a stronger connection with our natural world.

Outdoor School classes may occur on Zoo grounds or off-site in other nature-based environments. These classes focus less on animals at the Zoo and more on the powerful impact nature has on us as humans. When we care more about wild places, we take better care of them and the creatures that live there. This summer, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is offering brand-new opportunities to connect with nature:

Nature Hikes: We’ll search for signs of wildlife, like tracks and scat, or explore with our senses on high-alert in a forest at night. After participating in a nature hike workshop, you will see that we share this amazing Colorado home with so many species (some more obvious than others!).

Nature Photography: Photography is a great way to hold onto memories, share stories, and gain knowledge. Photos can allow us to experience nature up-close without a time limit, so we can focus on the details better than our eyes can. Imagine getting closer to monarch eggs or a hummingbird without disturbing them. Through a lens, you can gain an even greater understanding and appreciation for nature.

Nature Play and Exploration: Sometimes the best way to connect with nature is without an agenda, with opportunities to explore, observe, and engage the senses. Though activities are built into these programs, they are guided by participants’ interests and seamlessly flow into their own experiences. We’ll look for specific colors found around us, identify birds, build forts, or climb rocks. These explorations are sure to ignite your inner “wild child.”

These classes and more can be found at cmzoo.org/outdoorschool. Stay tuned to that page for upcoming programs and opportunities for every season throughout the year. Space is limited in each class, so register soon!

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo hosts its 14th annual Run to the Shrine, featuring a waddling African penguin as this year’s event mascot, on Sat., May 14 and Sun., May 15, 2022. Saturday’s event is sold out, but there’s still room to join in the fun on Sunday!

Run to the Shrine is the only time of the year foot traffic is allowed on the road to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.

The 4-mile up-and-back course offers breathtaking views of Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak as participants run by roaring lions and more through the Zoo, up to the Shrine and back. The challenging course, with a nearly 1,000-foot elevation gain, is good practice for competitive runners gearing up for summer races, and a fun challenge for weekend warriors and families. Runners and walkers are welcome, and jogging strollers equipped with automatic hand brakes and tethers are allowed on the course.

Registration includes Zoo admission for the evening, a commemorative performance T-shirt featuring Ivy, CMZoo African penguin, and access to a post-event celebration at the Zoo’s Lodge at Moose Lake. All proceeds help feed and care for Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s animals. Since the Zoo doesn’t receive any tax support, community events like Run to the Shrine help keep the zoo “running.”

Fast Facts

Run to the Shrine at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
5 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 14 (SOLD OUT)
Sunday, May 15

4-mile run/walk through the Zoo, up to Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, and back to the Zoo
Advance registration is required.
Register now at cmzoo.org/run.

Run to the Shrine is sponsored by Children’s Hospital Colorado and Colorado Springs SCHEELS.

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 2021, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #3 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. Of the 242 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.

Migrating birds and pollinators are moving through Colorado, and they’re hungry! As you plan your 2022 summer garden, consider these plants to brighten your backyard and feed our famished flying friends. CMZoo’s Annual Plant Sale, in the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo parking lot May 20-22, 2022, is a great place to stock up.

“Pollinators are extremely important members of our ecosystem, and they’re counting on us to help fuel their impressive migrations,” said Denny Patton, senior horticulturist at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “Early blooming perennial plants – which grow back every year – make beautiful additions to your garden when most other plants aren’t blooming yet, and they’re like an oasis in a desert for pollinators in search of food.”

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Annual Plant Sale is a great place to peruse plants. This year, the Zoo’s horticulture fundraising event will be in the Zoo parking lot Friday, May 20, Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s no need to make a reservation, and Zoo admission is not required. Plants will be available on a first-come first-served basis, so don’t be late!

This year’s Plant Sale is in-person only. There will be no online shopping or shipping options available. Come out to the Zoo and chat with our expert horticulturists about which plants work best in your garden, and know you’re supporting the ongoing beautification of the Zoo with your purchases.

“Our greenhouse is absolutely popping with plants that will be ready to go into the ground at the end of May,” said Patton. “We have perennials, grasses, shrubs and vines available, including some of my favorite pollinators, like butterfly bushes and catmint. We are also offering lavender, and coral bells, which are beautiful, dark purple evergreen plants with chunky leaves and tall stalks that have tiny flowers on them.”

Here are four pollinator favorites to consider adding to your backyard this year, and you can pick them up at this year’s Plant Sale.

Columbines, Colorado’s state flower, are wildflowers that typically bloom in June, and they have two layers of petals! The uniquely shaped flower’s name comes from the Latin word for ‘dove,’ because the interior white petals can look like five doves clustered together. They come in a variety of colors from red to dark purple, but the light blue Columbine is the color most Coloradans recognize.

Butterfly bushes are unruly shaped perennial shrubs that produce long clusters of tiny, sweet smelling flowers that grow in a cone shape along branches with long leaves. They’re usually purple, magenta, pink or white, and typically grow to be about five feet tall. As if their name wasn’t a hint, these flowers are big-time attractors of butterflies whose flowers usually start to bloom in June.

Husker red foxglove beard tongue is another drought-resistant perennial pollinator plant that does well in Colorado’s sandy soil. These plants bloom mid-spring to early summer, with bright-and-ruby red flowers stems and petite white flowers supported by burgundy-colored foliage. They can grow about 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide, and love full-to-partial sun.

Echinacea tennesseensis, or the Echinacea Tennessee purple coneflower, is a drought-tolerant perennial, and a member of the daisy family. Their lightly-scented purple flowers with copper-orange centers bloom at the ends of long stems, typically mid-summer to early fall. After a few seasons of care, they can grow up to four feet high and 36 inches wide.

With a garden of pollinator perennials that bloom throughout the season, you’ll be ready to welcome butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and more to your own personal paradise. Come by the Annual Plant Sale May 20, 21 and 22 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Zoo parking lot to check out our flora options, and to speak with our expert horticulturists about which plants could work well in your garden.

There’s no reservation or admission needed to attend the Plant Sale. All proceeds go to support the Zoo’s horticulture team and projects. Get more information at cmzoo.org/plantsale.

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The EdVenture Department at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has provided the community with wonderful daytime programs for decades. But, did you know they also have a small-group after-hours program for kids, teens and adults, called Starlight Safaris?

Starlight Safaris are a unique way to see the Zoo as your EdVenture guide shares stories, facts and good humor as you explore the Zoo for two hours under a starlit sky.

“I love when I get to share my passion for wildlife and conservation with guests in our evening programs,” said Austin Kennedy, CMZoo Extended Education Supervisor. “It feels more intimate to tour with a group when there are so few people at the Zoo. It’s a pretty special experience to be here at night.”

From the beginning of a Date Night Starlight Safari, just for 21-and-up attendees, guests arrive at the Zoo as the sun goes down, and the howls from the Mexican wolf pack welcome them in to grab an adult beverage of their choice. The groups visit a handful of indoor exhibits throughout the 2-hour tour, including Water’s Edge: Africa, The Loft and of course, feeding the giraffe herd in their barn.

Date Night Starlight Safaris are scheduled from Sun., May 1 to Fri., Aug. 19 and registration is open now at https://www.cmzoo.org/events-programs/schools-groups/evening-tours/date-night-starlight-safari-adults-only-21/. Feel free to join us as a party of one or sign up with your 21-and-up aged friends, work colleagues or partners.

Attendees can also organize their own event on any other available evening, as long as there are six or more participants in a group. Groups can book a Custom Starlight Safari that will include all of the above (adult beverages are only included in the 21-and-up Date Night Starlight Safaris), as well as the opportunity to roast s’mores together (weather dependent). These customized experiences are perfect for birthday celebrations, scout troops, families, team building, friend groups and anyone else you want to share this unique experience with. Start planning your custom event at cmzoo.org/starlight.

Want to give the kids their own night out? Drop them off for one of our prescheduled Kids Only or Teens Only Starlight Safaris! Like the Custom Starlight Safaris, kids will have a chance to roast s’mores during the program (weather dependent).

Teens-Only Starlight Safaris are scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Fri., May 20 and Sun., May 29. Register here: https://www.cmzoo.org/events-programs/camps-classes/teen-programs/teen-only-starlight-safari-may-20-29/.

Kids-Only Starlight Safaris are scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Sat., June 11, Fri., June 24 and Sat., July 16. Register here: https://www.cmzoo.org/events-programs/schools-groups/evening-tours/kids-only-starlight-safari-tour-june-11/.

We hope to see you at one of our Starlight Safaris, which are available year-round, soon!

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Saturdays for Scouts program offers opportunities to connect with nature and animals with a curriculum designed to help your scout earn a nature-themed badge.
Evening tours for scouts, feeding a tortoise
A schedule-your-own option is available for both Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups. Email [email protected] to set up your customized program.

The Zoo has also just launched pre-scheduled sessions designed specifically for Daisy, Brownie or Junior Girl Scouts. Girls can sign up as groups or individuals for these two-hour workshops. The workshops will enhance participants’ relationships with Zoo animals and create stronger connections with nature. Opportunities for other scout organizations will be available this summer and fall.

Girl Scouts who participate in the spring workshops will get to connect with other Girl Scouts and establish relationships throughout their community of peers. These workshops are designed around nature-driven badge requirements and will give girls the opportunity to work together with a common goal.

10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 16, 2022 – Eco Learner Workshop – Daisy
Nature is all around us, and it is the gift that keeps on giving! Come learn how we can help nature stay beautiful through the exploration and appreciation of local flora and fauna. We will even meet an animal ambassador who lives right in our own backyard!

10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 23, 2022 – Bugs Workshop – Brownies
Did you know that bugs are super important to the world around us? Join us as we explore the giant world of bugs, meet bugs up close, and find out why they play an important role for our entire planet.

10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 7, 2022 – Animal Habitats – Juniors
What makes a good habitat for a wild animal? How do we protect the animal habitats around us? Have you ever made a habitat for an animal? Journey with us as we discover what wild animals need in their wild places. Then practice making the perfect animal habitat of your own for one of our smallest Zoo creatures.

Advance registration is required. Please register at least one week in advance. Registration includes admission to CMZoo for the day.

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Zoos play a pivotal role in the care and conservation of the world’s most vulnerable species. From the largest land mammals, like giraffe and elephants, to the smallest jungle dwellers, like tree frogs and insects, species all over the world are regularly facing challenges that can threaten their future. The best tools to protect these species are education and sharing knowledge. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has an event that equips our young visitors (and adults!) with this power in a fun and engaging way.

Endangered Species Day is a Zoo-wide event, geared towards other school groups’ participation, on Friday, April 15. They day-long event features 25 interactive stations led by 7th graders from Cheyenne Mountain Junior High School. Homeschool groups, scout troops, and preschools have all attended in previous years.

The 7th grade presenters have spent months researching endangered species and the conservation actions in place to protect them. The stations will feature student-made posters with powerful information and visuals, as well as interactive games, activities, and demonstrations that engage Zoo guests in captivating ways. These students are passionate and excited about sharing their knowledge and inspiring others to care for these species.

Though the day is geared towards other school groups’ participation, other groups can participate! We even encourage small groups, like parents and their kids, to register to attend Endangered Species Day.

You must register in advance as a group for CMZoo’s Endangered Species Day to receive a passport that aligns with the stations throughout the Zoo. As participants interact with the stations, their passports will receive a stamp. After visiting all 25 stations, and the passport is full of stamps, participants will be equipped with new knowledge and actions to better protect wildlife and wild places. Endangered Species Day registration includes admission to the Zoo for that day. To register and learn more about Endangered Species Day, visit cmzoo.org/ESD.

Members and zoo guests who are not affiliated with a group may also reserve daytime admission to the Zoo on April 15, and interact with the stations as a supplemental part of a regular Zoo visit. Advance daytime admission tickets are required. Tickets are available at cmzoo.org/visit.

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Have you experienced the magic of CMZoo in the winter yet? Some people think there’s less to see and do at the Zoo in the cooler months, but the CMZoo giraffe tower stays busy all year long, regardless of the weather.

Thanks to Colorado’s famous 300 days of sunshine, the 17-member herd explores its outdoor spaces more often than you might think. One member, Ohe, seems to like the additional natural snow ‘enrichment,’ while others get lots of yummy browse and lettuce snacks from guests.

When they’re indoors, keepers get creative with enrichment activities and spend time training the giraffe for husbandry behaviors, like hoof care. Guests can feed the herd from inside their warm barn, too, so there’s no excuse for leaving the Zoo without making a memorable connection with a new tall friend.

We’re open all year, so come and see for yourself! Advance tickets are required: cmzoo.org/visit.

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Winter break is coming to an end, and that means spring break will be here before you know it. Spring Break Zoo Camp registration is open now at cmzoo.org/camp. Young explorers from first to sixth grade can sign up now for fun (and educational) opportunities with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Spring Break Zoo Camp is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, March 21-25, 2022. Campers can sign up for one day, or all five! Each day features new activities, so campers who attend for multiple days will have unique animal experiences every day.

This year’s Spring Break Zoo Camp theme is Incredible Innate Behaviors! Innate behaviors are unlearned, instinctual acts, like geese migrating or opossums ‘playing dead.’ The animal world is full of incredible actions that animals are born to do. Come discover how these almost involuntary acts help animals throughout the wild world!

Campers should sign up for the camp that reflects the grade they are currently enrolled in. All camps include hands-on experiences, up-close animal encounters, games, and more every single day! Register for the whole week, or just a few days. Camps will fill up fast, so don’t delay.

Space is limited, so visit www.cmzoo.org/camp to register your campers today!

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ANNUAL HOLIDAY LIGHTS CELEBRATION CONTINUES THROUGH SATURDAY, JANUARY 1, 2022 – USA 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 third year in a row. This is the sixth year running that Electric Safari has ranked in the top ten.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s 31st annual month-long celebration of the season continues through Saturday, Jan. 1 (except Christmas Eve, Friday, Dec. 24), featuring 50 acres of twinkling lights, 60 artisan-made light sculptures and breathtaking nighttime city views. New this year, giant illuminated animal inflatables, including a 30-foot tall inflatable giraffe duo, add to the holiday celebration.

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. Water’s Edge: Africa, 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.

Advance e-tickets are required for members and the general public, and they are going fast! Members and their accompanying paying guests are granted early admission with a reserved ticket from 4 to 5 p.m. Admission closes at 7:30 p.m. Electric Safari ends at 8:30 p.m. Some entry times and nights are sold out; check availability and reserve tickets now at cmzoo.org/electric.

Electric Safari is supported by our partners at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs Pediatric Dentistry, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, U.S. Bank and your Colorado Springs Toyota dealers. For more information, visit: cmzoo.org/electric.

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 2021, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #3 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. Of the 242 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.

NAMED THIRD BEST ZOO LIGHTS IN U.S. IN 2020, ELECTRIC SAFARI IS AGAIN NOMINATED FOR NATIONAL USA TODAY READERS’ CHOICE RANKING – More than 50 acres of twinkling lights, 60 artisan-made light sculptures, breathtaking nighttime city views and the nearby sound of roaring lions can only mean one thing in Colorado Springs: Electric Safari is back. New this year, giant illuminated animal inflatables add to the holiday celebration.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s 31st annual month-long celebration of the season will begin Friday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 5, and continue Friday, Dec. 10 through Saturday, Jan. 1, excluding Christmas Eve. Members and their accompanying paying guests are granted early admission with a reserved ticket from 4 to 5 p.m. General admission is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Electric Safari ends at 8:30 p.m.

Electric Safari is free for CMZoo members, and members can attend as often as they’d like! To manage on-site parking throughout the event, advance timed tickets are required for members and the general public. Get tickets and more details at cmzoo.org/electric.

Attendees will enjoy lit trees, structures and sculptures, installed by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s grounds team over four months. Brand-new larger-than-life illuminated animal inflatables will decorate the Zoo this year, making extra special backdrops for holiday photos. If all of those beautiful lights don’t un-Scrooge even the Grinchiest of holiday grumps, a cup of hot cocoa and a visit with Santa ought to do the trick.

Kris Kringle will be in Safari Lodge through Dec. 23 to hear holiday wishes, collect lists and pose for free photos. The Mountaineer Sky Ride will be open (weather permitting) for incredible once-a-year views of the holiday nighttime glow of Colorado Springs from the mountainside.

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. Water’s Edge: Africa, 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.

Grizzly Grill, Cozy Goat, Pizza with a View and Elson’s will be open to serve food and beverages. The Thundergod gift shop is open every night to serve hot cocoa. Guests can roast s’mores and sip hot cocoa at Rocky Mountain BBQ Co on Saturdays and Sundays. Dippin’ Dots in Rocky Mountain Wild will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to serve hot cocoa. Warming outdoor heaters throughout the Zoo help keep visitors warm in between the indoor animal exhibits.

Electric Safari was named Third Best Zoo Lights in the nation the last two years, by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, and has once again been nominated. Supporters can vote once daily at cmzoo.org/lights through 10 a.m. MST on Monday, Dec. 6. Winners will be announced Friday, Dec. 17.

Electric Safari is supported by our partners at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs Pediatric Dentistry, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, U.S. Bank and your Colorado Springs Toyota dealers. For more information, visit: cmzoo.org/electric.

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 2021, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #3 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. Of the 242 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.