Philanthropist Spencer Penrose founded the Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society to house his growing collection of exotic animals in 1926. After substantial growth and development, Penrose incorporated the Zoo in 1938, as a non-profit public trust for the people of Colorado Springs. His goal was to provide a zoological park that would provide education, conservation, recreation and scientific facilities in the area of zoology and related subjects. Penrose’s wish was to preserve the Zoo for those who lived in the Pikes Peak region.


The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo participates in more than 30 Species Survival Programs. The Zoo’s goal is to promote on-site conservation of natural resources, energy, responsible land use and recycling. The Zoo’s program promotes awareness for preserving important ecosystems. The Zoo houses dozens of endangered species that include animals, birds and amphibians and reptiles.

Education Programs

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is dedicated to educating the public to appreciate and understand the natural world and open the door to public action. Programs include those for children, youth, adults and teachers. Group and school programs are also available.

Safari Trail Immersion Tours

If you like the thrill of adventure, the African Rifts Valley offers visitors a unique opportunity to walk the Safari Discovery Trail. The tour is lead by experienced zookeepers and allows visitors a close encounter with the Zoo’s African animals.


The Zoo houses a wide range of animal species, including Colobus monkeys, Lesser Kudus (a spiral horned antelope,) zebras, penguins, meerkats, African bush pigs, giraffes, lowland gorillas, amphibians, reptiles and more. Each year animal babies delight visitors with their antics. On February 18, 2006, at 7:36 pm, a baby lowland gorilla was born at the Zoo. He weighed in a 5.25 pounds and was named Umandee (pronounced oo-mahn-day.) His name means mist or fog. Umandee is a welcome addition to the gorilla compound at the Zoo.

My Big Back Yard

My Big Back Yard is an area in the heart of the Zoo where the entire family can participate in fun activities. The nature-themed play area features crawl-through snakes, giant mushrooms that can be climbed and large ants. The lightest blade of grass in My Big Back Yard weighs approximately 200 pounds. The oversized sculptures were created by a talented group of Colorado Springs artists. Chris Weed used over 5,500 pounds of steel to create 27 flower and grass elements that kids love.

From the play area, visitors can gain access to the animal contact area via a fun path that is stroller accessible. The path passes by the Colorado Habitat Tree, an authentic tree house that offers learning opportunities for kids of all ages. My Big Back Yard is open daily year round when weather permits.

Animal Contact Area

Kids will enjoy this area of My Big Back Yard, where they can enjoy a hands-on animal encounter with rabbits, goats, guinea pigs and a wide variety of farm animals.

Other Activities

The Zoo offers a wide range of other activities for kids to enjoy, including an antique zoo animal carousel that’s been fully restored. Those of all ages love riding on the Shongololo Choo Choo. A tram allows visitors to have easy access up and down the mountain while visiting the Zoo.

Food, Gift Shop and Snacks

Thundergod Snack and Gift Shop can be found near the Zoo’s entrance, just behind the admission gate. A wide range of books, gifts and films are available for purchase. Snacks include salads, sandwiches, popcorn, pretzels and ice cream. During the winter months, stroller and wagon rentals are available.

Safari Lodge is located in the African Rift Valley and is open during the summer months. Hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream and sno cones, as well as other snacks can be purchased here.

Colobus Café and Patio offers a climate controlled environment and indoor seating. Fare includes burgers, fries, pizza, salads, onion rings, ice cream and other snacks.

Elephant Art

Lucy, an African elephant has lived at the Zoo since 1981. Her keepers have trained her to paint in order to stimulate and challenge her mind. Lucy paints on canvas by holding a paintbrush with her trunk. Her work has been displayed in galleries and showcased in Colorado Springs. All proceeds from the sale of Lucy’s art goes toward the purchase of additional art supplies and enrichment items for the elephants housed at the zoo.

Adopt an Animal

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is self-sustaining. If you would like to help the Zoo financially in order that they can continue to provide the necessities of life for their animals, consider adopting an animal. There are different levels of assistance and you can choose the one that best fits your budget.

For a day of exciting adventure and close-up animal encounters that will delight the entire family, be sure to visit Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the Pikes Peak area. You will experience the thrill of a lifetime.