How to Navigate the Denver Zoo

With these tips from Jake Kubié, director of communications, your family is about to have the best zoo season yet. Lions and tigers know the rest.

Crowd watching elephant show
Courtesy Denver Zoo

Plan a demonstration day
“Our demonstrations aren’t shows in the traditional way. These demos are where we share animal behaviors and how we take care of the animals. The things the animals do aren’t tricks; they are behaviors we teach so they can participate in their care. We have demonstrations running all day. On one day, there might be penguin talks and demonstrations at 10:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., a keeper talk with our tigers at 11 a.m., two elephant demonstrations at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., a chance to meet the llamas at noon, and more.”

Or don’t plan anything
“The nice thing about how the zoo is laid out is that it’s really one big loop. I like to come to the zoo without any plan: When you get in, you just have one choice— going left or going right.”

Consult the Denver Zoo app (called Denver Zoo Mobile)
“It’s a great way to learn about the animals (ages, favorite snacks, etc.) and our daily schedule (demonstrations, feedings, and other fun stuff).” The app also has a GPS-enabled map.

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When all else fails, head to Tropical Discovery
“This place houses around half of our animal population. The building is also kept at about 75 degrees year-round, making it a great place to cool off in the summer and warm up in the winter..”

Bring snacks and drinks
“Plan a picnic—we have beautiful grounds, like the Woodland Gardens area by the carousel, that people often forget about.”

Consider the weather
“In the heat of the summer, a lot of the animals are more active in the early morning and late afternoon. Take the lions: In the middle of a hot day, they are typically resting.”

Spot newborns
Keep an eye on the Denver Zoo’s social media channels and blog, Zoo Tales. “You can catch tips from exhibit keepers on the best times to visit a newborn.”

Bring a water bottle
“We focus on sustainability as much as possible and encourage people to bring reusable water bottles. We have refilling stations and water fountains.”

Beat the crowds
“To do so, arrive early. Getting here 10 to 15 minutes before the zoo opens can get you a head start, and a better parking spot.”

Or go after dark
“The zoo is magical at night. We have after-dark events all throughout the year, like our educational series called The Watering Hole. The adult events are paired with cocktails and appetizers, too.”

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