Like many people, I look on zoos with a prickly mixture of nostalgia, delight and ethical doubt.
Exotic animals are perennially fascinating, especially when you're four. A child of the ’90s, I grew up with Raffi crooning happily on the tape deck in my mom's car: "We're going to the zoo zoo zoo, how about you you you? You can come too too too! We're going to the zoo zoo zoo."
Then I got older and learned about things like habitats and migration patterns, and I realized why those chimpanzees always looked so very bored in their fenced-in trees, and why any time pandas have sex in captivity, China declares a national holiday.
Zoos started to seem a little creepy, or maybe just sad.
Even so, I was mildly delighted when, on a middle-school field trip, a giraffe at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo deigned to take a cracker right out of my hand with its prehensile purple tongue.
How is that not cool?
What keeps that memory cool (and untarnished) in recollection is that the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has once again been named among the top 10 percent of zoos worldwide in its standards of animal care, conservation and safety. After undergoing a rigorous on-site inspection this summer by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Commission, a panel of animal care and management experts with an extensive code of ethics, the CMZ has been awarded re-accreditation through 2015.
The award also signifies that the zoo's veterinary and education programs are top-notch, a distinction that the zoo plans to celebrate with a week's worth of festivities. Starting Nov. 8, visitors can take advantage of free rides, admission and membership deals, and (oh, rapture) coupons for giraffe crackers. In a feat of syncopation to make Raffi proud, they're calling it the From the Zoo to You Community Accreditation Celebration. New promotions will be featured every day through Nov. 12 — get more information about the special of the day at 633-9925 (x125). Zoo hours are 9 to 4 daily.
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