9 Amazing Animals You Won’t Want to Miss at the Denver Zoo

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Think of all the trips you’d have to take to see all the animals below (probably flying out of the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport, if you’re doing it the easy way).

It would take you years. If you’re short that kind of time or money, just fly to Denver and visit the zoo.

One morning trip to the Denver Zoo and almost every animal was out. As a photographer, it was a lot of fun photographing the animals, both inside and outside the enclosures.
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Not only did the animals’ homes at the Denver Zoo seem spacious compared to other zoos, but they were well-designed to handle the crowds. I could see animals from multiple spots around the same enclosure.

These are the animals I was most blown away by seeing in person and up close.
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1 – The River Hippo

Usually in a zoo, this guy is just a set of eyes in the water. Not this day at the Denver Zoo.

Hippos are found in Africa. The animal’s full name, the hippopotamus, means “river horse” because they spend so much time submerged in water.

The hippopotamus is generally considered the third largest land mammal (after the White rhinoceros and elephant). They live around 45 years and eat mostly grass.

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2 – The Reticulated Giraffe

The giraffes, including the baby pictured here, at an absolute must-see. The baby is seen here play-chasing a peacock that had wandered into the giraffe enclosure. The peacock didn’t want to play.

The giraffe is the tallest living land animal. Males can reach a height of 16 to 18 feet while females are somewhat smaller at 14 to 16 feet. Even the babies are around 5 feet tall.

Giraffes are known for their spotted coats. Different subspecies (types) of giraffes have different patterns of spots.

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3 – The Asian Elephant

The Denver Zoo has shows where they talk about elephant conservation and education.

The elephant is Earth’s largest land animal. The Asian elephant is slightly smaller than its African cousin. Asian elephants can be identified by their smaller, rounded ears.

Males can weight 12,000 lbs and eat 300 lbs of food a day.
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4 – The South African Lion

These lions were cuddled up right next to the glass.

Lions are the only cats that live in groups, which are called prides.

Even though the lion is sometimes referred to as the “king of the jungle,” it actually only lives in grasslands and plains.
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5 – The California Sea Lion

The sea lions were relaxing while sunning themselves, their eyes closed and faces to the sky like they were listening to music.

When diving deep, California sea lions slow their heart rates to allow them to remain underwater for nearly ten minutes before surfacing to breathe.

This ability gives them an edge in the pursuit of the fish, squid, and shellfish that make up their primary diet. California sea lions can hunt continuously for up to 30 hours.
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6 – The Indian Peafowl

The bird more commonly know as the peacock roams freely at the Denver Zoo.

The Indian peafowl is the national bird of India and is protected in that country. In the Hindu religion, the peafowl is a sacred bird, because the spots on the peacock’s tail symbolize the eyes of the gods.
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7 – The Dall’s Sheep

This North American sheep was climbing around the rock ledges.

Dall’s sheep is distributed throughout Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and the northwest part of British Columbia.

The horns of the male Dall’s sheep are thick and grow continuously throughout life forming a complete circle by the age of eight. Horns can weigh up to 22 pounds or up to 10% of the sheep’s total body weight.
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8 – The Roseate Spoonbill

The bird enclosure is absolutely not to be missed, where you are invited to walk among them. Make sure you look up though, as a lot of the birds are in the trees.

Very common in parts of the southeast until the 1860s, spoonbills were virtually eliminated from the United States as a side-effect of the destruction of wader colonies by plume hunters.

Population numbers dropped dramatically between 1850 and 1890 as a result of hunters selling the feathers for use in fans and hat-making.
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9 – Golden Lion Tamarin

FACT: This is the cutest animal they have at the Denver Zoo.

Golden lion tamarins are native to southeastern Brazil near Rio de Janeiro.

By 1971, golden lion tamarins were critically endangered with only 200 left in the wild.


About the Traveler

Katie Glennemeier is the Community News Director for SweetwaterNOW. Photography and storytelling are two of her greatest passions in life. Travel is a close second. As the great storyteller J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
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