Welcome to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s official blog! From amazing animal stories to a "behind the scenes" look at daily zoo life, this is the place to get to know
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on a more personal level.
Check back often to get In Between the Spots!

April 4, 2014

Giraffe Head Band

We all know that a giraffe’s neck is super long, but did you know they have the same number of neck bones as we do? Your child’s neck may be short, but it’s still fun to pretend it’s a bit longer with our giraffe head band and activity! 

  • Ear and Ossicone (horn) template
  • Yellow construction paper for head band
  • Glue and stapler
  • Crayons
  1. Cut and color ear and ossicones from the template.
  2. Cut two stripes of yellow construction paper (long ways) and staple together to fit around head.
  3. Glue ears and ossicones to the headband.
  4. Add spots as a final touch

March 28, 2014

Paradise Cookie

Weekends often mean extra time for cooking and baking! Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s chefs will cure your weekend sweet tooth with their recipe for Paradise Cookies. This sweet and citrusy cookie makes a great desert after a springtime BBQ. If you don’t feel like baking at home, stop by the Grizzly Grill and enjoy one of our many homemade dessert offerings.

Paradise Cookie
2 Cups Butter
3 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Orange Juice
Juice from 1 Lemon
3 eggs
7 Cups Flour
3 Cups Coconut
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tblsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
Zest of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon

*Cream Butter and Sugar.  Add Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, eggs, and zests of orange and lemon.  Blend Well.
*Add in Coconut
*Mix in separate bowl all dry ingredients and then add to wet mixture.  Mix well.
*Make into Balls and then roll in shredded coconut.  
*Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 Minutes. 

March 13, 2014

Tocho Fully Recovers from Leg Surgery

Tocho, one of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's 8-year-old mountain lions, has recovered from a cruciate ligament surgery and is now enjoying his main yard with his siblings. Tocho received a five-hour surgery on his rear right leg the day after Christmas and has since been resting in his indoor den while his leg healed. A follow-up exam by veterinarians confirmed the surgery was a success.

“Once we got word that Tocho had a clean bill of health, we couldn't wait to give him access to his main yard,” Rebecca Zwicker, Rocky Mountain Wild animal keeper, said. “It was a sunny day, the snow was melting and it was the perfect day to be outside. “

When Zwicker opened the den door, she expected Tocho to run outside, but he just looked at her.

“It took him a few minutes, but he eventually poked his head out,” Zwicker said. “Once he was outside, he began exploring and taking it all in.”

After taking time to smell everything and use a log for a scratching post, Tocho settled in with his two brothers, Yuma and Motega, and sister, Kaya, for a morning nap in the sun.

“I feel so incredibly lucky to get to work with Tocho and work at a Zoo where an accident-prone cougar can get amazing medical care,” Zwicker said. “He’s received not one, but two complex surgeries to heal his back right leg.”  

The day after Christmas, 13 medical professionals from Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Colorado Academy of Veterinary Technology and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo performed a five-hour surgery on Tocho to repair his cruciate ligament and replace two bone plates that were previously used to repair a broken leg. Everyone was optimistic and hopeful about the outcome, but only time would tell if it was a complete success.

“During the follow-up examination, he had great range of motion, and we were really happy with how much the leg had healed,” Dr. Liza Dadone, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo veterinarian, said. “We don’t have any concerns about taking him off den rest, and we are ecstatic that he can once again leap around the outdoor exhibit.”

You can see Tocho in the Zoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit; he is very identifiable because the fur that was shaved for surgery on his right back leg has not fully grown in yet.

We extend a sincere thanks to the team that assisted with Tocho’s successful surgery - from CSU, Drs. Clara Goh, Matthew Johnston, Ross Palmer, Dana Ruehlman, two veterinary technicians and one vet-tech student. CAVT’s surgical team included veterinarian Dr. Dave Rubenstein and a vet-tech student. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s medical team included veterinarians Dr. Liza Dadone and Dr. Eric Klaphake, hospital manager and veterinary technician DeeAnn Wilfong, and veterinary technician Harley Thompson. The two bone plates were donated by DePuy Synthes

To see additional photos of him enjoying the main yard, visit: http://bit.ly/1lBfwvJ.

To read the original story about Tocho, visit: http://tinyurl.com/pwb2pnu.


March 7, 2014

Strawberry Jalapeno Jam Recipe

This week Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's chefs have mixed up a recipe for strawberry-jalapeno jam. This versatile spread can go on burgers, sandwiches, pitas, crackers, bread and more!
  • 5 cups strawberries 
  • 1 cup jalapenos  
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 TBSP cilantro  
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes

  1. Dice strawberries, jalapenos and cilantro.
  2. Add vinegar, strawberries, cilantro and jalapenos into a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Add salt and red pepper flakes and stir.
  4.  Lower heat and simmer until thickened, while stirring frequently.
Yields approximately four cups.

February 28, 2014

Q4C Spotlight – Amur Leopard & Tiger Alliance (ALTA)

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) program is helping to save Amur leopards and tigers in Far East Russia by supporting the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA). Staff members Rachel Downing and Catrena Voci are champions of the ALTA Q4C project, and they are excited about the progress the group has made this year. 

Due to poaching and loss of their forest home, Amur tigers and leopards are two of the most critically endangered cat species. Funds given to ALTA are providing hope for the potential release of captive-bred leopards into the wild. ALTA also works to educate native people on the importance of saving Amur tigers in the region.

“When you look at the numbers of Amur leopards left in the wild, which is less than 40, and Amur tigers, which is less than 400, the numbers are scary and alarming, but it’s not hopeless,” Downing, Conservation Highlands Animal Keeper, said. “Great things are happening and great people are working on a solution. We are proud to be a part of the conservation work that is taking place.”

This year, ALTA’s Q4C funds will assist in building a research laboratory located in a future Amur leopard release area. Specifically, Downing and Voci are working towards raising enough money to buy a portable anesthesia machine for the research lab.

“A portable anesthesia machine would allow field researchers to anesthetize, take blood samples, and monitor the health of future released cats on the ground,” Voci, Conservation Highlands Animal Keeper, said. “In the past, researchers have had to wait for months to get lab results.  The portable machine and research lab would provide them with real-time, on-the-spot information.”

Voci and Downing explained that in addition to poaching and loss of their habitat, Amur leopards and tigers are also suffering from canine distemper, which is more prevalent due to the lack of vaccination of dogs in the region. The new research lab and equipment would help track and monitor canine distemper in leopards and tigers, too.

Q4C money from previous years funded a field team that tracked poachers and helped to educate locals about the issues that Amur leopards and tigers are facing. The funds also helped field teams promote the co-existence of people and animals by reimbursing farmers for livestock killed by big cats. Additionally, they used Q4C dollars to purchase a field vehicle. The vehicle has allowed ALTA to place camera traps in areas not originally available to them, as well as expand their educational outreach programs.

“Education is a key component of conservation,” Downing said. “ALTA is working hard in Russia to get people involved and excited to save our big cats, and we are doing the same at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.”  

Downing and Voci enjoy talking about the Zoo’s Amur tiger and leopard species ambassadors with guests, and have hope that someday ALTA will report that a captive-bred decedent from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will actually be released in Russia.

“The hope is that someday, in the near future, ALTA will be able to pull Amur leopards from zoos for wild release,” Voci said. “It’s amazing to think that we could play a role in those efforts, too.”

To learn more about Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s ALTA Q4C project, or to make a contribution, visit: www.cmzoo.org/conservation