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A wild attraction: Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is pure fun for people of all ages




One of Colorado's many marvellous attractions is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo which is located in the state's central city of Colorado Springs. The Zoo, being one of only two mountain zoos in the United States, was established in 1926 by philanthropist Spencer Penrose for the purpose of housing his growing collection of exotic animals. Today, it holds over 750 animals from all over the world, including 30 endangered species and the largest herd of Somali giraffes in the United States. The Zoo operates solely as a non-profit public trust to the people of Colorado Springs, and is among the very few in the nation which does not depend on the support of local taxes; that being said, it functions entirely on donations, grants, admissions and memberships. That's why a recent donation of $1.46 million - the largest donation the zoo has ever received from an individual in its eighty years of existence - came as huge news. The funds have been allocated to the Rocky Mountain Wild Capital Campaign, which will construct an exhibit to connect Zoo visitors with the wild heritage of Colorado. The space will feature mountain lions, lynx, bald eagles, and grizzly bears, amongst a number of other animals native to the region. What's more, the El Pomar Foundation, which has played a significantly active role in the Zoo's development ever since its early days, has matched the $1.46 million gift for the project's expansion - a fitting affair with the Zoo celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. But until the new exhibit is completed in 2008, visitors can continue to stroll between the habitats of more than 140 species of animals, and even hand feed certain groups such as the famous giraffes. And no outing to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is complete without a visit to the 'Shrine of the Sun,' an historic monument which stands at an elevation of over 8,000 feet and provides remarkable views above the city of Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a fantastic place for families to frequent together; in fact, it was voted 'the best place for family fun' for five consecutive years by Colorado's Gazette. And the zoo's many picnic areas make it easy to pack a lunch and make an entire day out of the visit. What's more, in between stopping at animal exhibits, adults and youths alike can take part in the various education
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 programs hosted by the Zoo - an endeavour to build appreciation and understanding of animals and the natural world. If you're planning to take a long car ride or perhaps even a flight to Colorado Springs, you'll undoubtedly need to book accommodation - and your options are anything but limited. Colorado Springs has a number of terrific local hotels and familiar franchises like Embassy Suites to stay at, many of which are a just a hop, skip and a jump away from the city's biggest attractions - one of them being the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. And if you're arranging a group or family trip, you'll likely be able to track some superb package deals on both sightseeing and accommodation. So with everything Colorado has to offer - from the breathtaking scenery to amazing attractions such as the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - what are you waiting for? Start planning your adventure today; you're sure to return home some wild memories. Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh rugby club.



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