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!

August 27, 2009

International Vulture Awareness Day

By Jenyva Turner

Did you know that vultures’ stomach juices can kill diseases like rabies and anthrax or that a vulture can eat up to one quarter of its body weight in meat at one meal? That’s like us eating 30-50 lbs of food at once!

When people think of vultures, unpleasant images come to mind. However, vultures have many interesting, unique adaptations, not to mention they are vital to the health of ecosystems around the world. No other scavenger is better equipped to deal with death and disease than the vulture. From strong stomach acids to featherless heads, vultures prevent disease from spreading while keeping themselves clean and healthy in the process.

However, vultures around the world are in trouble. They face many threats such as poisoning from feeding on medicated cattle carcasses, power line collisions and loss of food and habitat. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is working to help save vultures through our Quarters for Conservation program. We are raising money thru your votes to purchase a safe alternative drug for cattle that’s vulture-friendly as well as buying research and rehab supplies and money to fund a much-needed population and habitat survey for Cape Griffon vultures. Next time you are at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, visit the Wings of Africa Bird Show at 1pm in African Rift Valley to see our own vultures up close.

Also, join us at the Zoo on Saturday, September 5th for the world’s 1st-ever International Vulture Awareness Day! Vulture-themed events will take place in conservation facilities around the world on that same day to help raise awareness of vultures and their importance in our world. At Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, there will be many fun activities for kids of all ages and opportunities to win chances to get an up-close experience with our vultures and a chance to feed them!

August 26, 2009

Snow Leopard GPS Collar Up-Link Maps

Megan, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Animal Behavior Manager, has returned from Mongolia! As a regular contributor to In Between the Spots, Megan plans to share Snow Leopard conservation work updates here! Thank you to Megan and all volunteers who work so hard every day to promote conservation action at home and abroad!

Hello All,

I may have returned from Mongolia but Snow Leopards and my experience are still never far from my thoughts! In order to help keep myself and all the other Snow Leopards lovers out there in the loop with the research developments in Mongolia the staff at Snow Leopard Trust has been kind enough to let me share with you the bi-weekly GPS collar up-link maps.

These maps show the locations of the 5 cats that are currently collared in the South Gobi research area and are providing critical information to researchers on how and where the Snow Leopard move. The round dots are from previous up-links while the squares connected with the lines are the most recent movements from each cat.

You can see where the research camp that I visited on my trip is located in the center of the map. It’s so exciting to know that I was that close to these amazing cats, even if they never let us see them! If you would like to learn more visit the Snow Leopard Trust’s blog for up to date information on all the exciting research. I hope you enjoy watching these Snow Leopards’ progress as much as I do!!

August 25, 2009

Another Update from Kenya!

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Loft educator Erica Garroutte is currently in Kimana, Kenya to work at the School for Field Studies station to study wildlife of the Rift Valley and involve local communities in local conservation projects.

Here is her latest update all the way from Kenya:

I am enjoying Kenya quite a bit so far. The food is fantastic and my “banda” is actually really nice. It is a wooden hut with a bed, couch and table. I really enjoy the mornings here because the sunrise is fantastic and all of the colorful birds are out.

The camp is full of vervet monkeys who are extremely mischievous. They plan raids on the food in camp. I saw one with a sandwich today. Also, today I saw an African Giant Millipede. I picked it up (which you should not do, by the way) and I told all the Kenyans that my job was to hold these for children. They think I am quite strange. Oh and they were really confused when I told them that his name was "Norman". After this conversation they walked me around and told me all the things I am not allowed to pick up and to definitely not give to children. One said “their mamas will be mad if you make them take a bug". Haha.

I have realized since being here that I think that the Zoo is really on the frontline of the conservation battle. The US has the potential to do some effective things worldwide for human populations and conservation. For the change to happen, the American people need to buy into the idea and realize that it will be important not only for people in Kenya but for the world community. Never forget, even when thousands of people come through the zoo, that those interactions are potential seeds for great change.

August 20, 2009

Recent Guest Comment

"I am a Native of Colorado and until yesterday had never been to the Cheyenne Mountain zoo before.

I just wanted to send a quick note to tell you how wonderful my 1st visit was. It is now my favorite zoo!!!! My daughter and I had such a great time we can't wait to go back again soon and there are a few exhibits that we missed so that will be a good excuse to go back.

The whole entire atmosphere was terrific and made you feel like you really are in the mountains as well as a safari while feeding the giraffes. I can't believe I waited so long to visit but I won't wait so long to return!"

August 19, 2009

Moonlight on the Mountain

On August 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., the Zoo will once again hold a special adults-only evening where you can mix and mingle with other grown-ups in a wonderfully fun environment complete with delicious food, quenching beverages, real animals and up close experiences in African Rift Valley. Add these party ingredients together and you've got one of the region's premiere annual mixers, Moonlight on the Mountain!

Tickets are $25 per person online; $30 per person at the door; couples are always $45. Admission includes appetizers, Bristol Beer, wines courtesy of Sovereignty Wines, non-alcoholic beverages and animal demonstrations throughout the African Rift Valley Exhibit area. A cash bar will also be available. All proceeds benefit the Zoo's conservation programs. This evening is for adults 21 and older only.

Please visit our website for more details or to purchase tickets.

Palm Oil Update

Cadbury has removed palm oil from its chocolate products! Read more about their decision in the New Zeland Herald!

Why is this important? Visit our website to learn more about the palm oil crisis.

August 14, 2009

Conservation Work in Mongolia

Our Animal Behavior Programs Manger, Megan, is currently in Mongolia providing snow leopard conservation and field work studies. Here’s her latest update all the way from Mongolia:

Sain Bainauu (Hello!)
We spent a few days in Ulaan Baatar wrapping up what information was gathered at the herder's workshop. It feels like there is a lot of new energy around some new ideas and moving Snow Leopard conservation forward. It's very exciting!

Yesterday we traveled to Khustai National Park to see the wild Przewalski's Horses. In Mongolian they are called takhi. We saw two separate herds complete with 3 foals ranging from 1 day to 2 months old. The takhi were thought to be extinct in the wild in the 1970's. There were however some individuals in zoos around the world. These horses were bread and eventually released into the wild. There are now over 260 takhi in the park making it a great success story much like the work we do with Black Footed Ferrets at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo! It was an amazing experience!

Tomorrow we are headed to the South Gobi to the Snow Leopard Trust's research camp. I am excited to see the place where so much important conservation work is happening!
Until later!
Bayartai (Goodbye)


August 12, 2009

Ever seen Jupiter?

Friday August 14 from 8-10 pm is your chance! It time for the third event in our Stargazing Series. Join the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society in viewing Jupiter, Jupiter’s moons as well as star clusters and more through their phenomenal telescopes!

Interested in prisms and how the colors of the rainbow appear? Cool Science will be in the Yurt demonstrating the reflection of light and other hands-on science concepts!

Also get closer to our fruit bats and listen to our Bat Detector!

We’ll see you in the stars!

August 11, 2009

Run to the Shrine Rewind

Thank you to runners, walkers, joggers, volunteers and sponsors alike for making Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Run to the Shrine such a success this year!

With over 150 participants and 5 relay teams, the event was something to be remembered! A big thank you goes out to our volunteers as well as our in-kind and corporate sponsors!

Congratulations to all of our run winners and participants including:

Daryn Parker: Top Male Finisher 18-39 age group
Ron Bollenberghe: Top Male Finisher 40+ age group
Kristen Adelman: Top Female Finisher 18-39 age group
Maatje Benassi: Top Female Finisher 40+ age group

Enjoy this slideshow of the event festivities:

August 7, 2009

Guest Photo

A guest's favorite photo from a recent visit:

Thank you for submitting photos! Submit your favorite Zoo photo to blogkeeper@cmzoo.org.

August 3, 2009

Erica’s Second Update from Kenya!

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Loft educator Erica Garroutte is currently in Kimana, Kenya to work at the School for Field Studies station to study wildlife of the Rift Valley and involve local communities in local conservation projects.

Here is her latest update all the way from Kenya:

For the next month I will be working on research to determine the differences in species diversity within parks compared to the dispersal zones to determine how the animals are moving in the drought. Also I will be doing interviews to see how people are currently viewing the parks and how often they go into the parks as visitors or to herd cattle.

I have realized already that the conservation issues are so complicated that it is necessary to look at all factors affecting the situation, and even then there is no clear solution. For example, the law in the national park areas are that people cannot bring in livestock, however, in the drought some of the only water is located in the parks. Since there is a drought, maasai are taking their cattle across the country to find water, so how do you tell them that they must turn back? They would probably loose many on the way back, and once they get back there is no water there either. Without proper nutrition disease spreads quickly, so they know the importance of getting their cattle to the water. It is very complicated.

Also, an interesting aspect is that there are many tea and coffee farms that harvest coffee exported to the states. Also there are many places that harvest exotic plants that are also sent to the US. Interestingly, these farms receive much of the water available because it is such an important income to the people.

The issues are messy, and it really makes you rethink conservation of wildlife. Conservation of the ecosystem and the animals is essential not only for the environment but to the native people, but for conservation to be effective it must be holistic. Public health, human welfare, economics, politics, and the environment are all connected and effective conservation works to provide a solution that benefits all aspects.

Check back for more from Erica next week!

August 2, 2009

Conservation Work in Mongolia

Our Animal Behavior Programs Manger, Megan, is currently in Mongolia providing snow leopard conservation and field work studies.

Here’s an update all the way from Mongolia:

Sain Beinoo! Hello from Mongolia!

Our group has just returned to UlaanBaatar from the city of Khovd. In Khovd we held a meeting for the herding communities involved in the Snow Leopard Enterprises program. I am learning that the Mongolian people are conservationists by nature, they have so much respect for their environment and I was truly impressed by how enthusiastic they were to do even more to help Snow Leopards and other wildlife that share the areas they live. It was a very enlightening and exciting experience for everyone involved. The community leaders were so grateful to be able to come together to share their ideas on their traditional crafts, conservation and the future of the program. To be a part of something that was obviously so important to them was a very moving experience!! We will be heading to the South Gobi tomorrow to visit the research camp. ‘Till next time…