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Love, Value, Learn

Heidi Wolle

The Denver Zoo is a great place to walk around, take selfies with animals, and have fun - all while sneaking in a bit of learning about the close to 4,000 species of animals that live there and what you can do to help them.
Education at the zoo consists of abounding happenings for all ages. "You're surrounded by education here at the (Denver) Zoo," said Katie Peterson, seven-year education animal keeper.
Her duties include cleaning up, preparing diets, and providing enrichment for the 100+ animal species in the education department. Enrichment is one way to keep the animals stimulated. “In the wild, they’d be seeing new things every day. Obviously, here at the zoo, it’s a little bit different. So, we like to provide things to their environment that will get them thinking; get them moving.”
Another large chunk of zoo learning is from the many experiential programs. “We have a lot of programs for different ages, for teachers, for classes, for adults, for families… They’re all at a science-based learning.”
One neat program of the education department is called the Denver Zoo Scholarship Fund, which can benefit any individual no matter what their economic circumstance is. An upcoming event is an ice cream social on August 9th. Five dollars gets a visitor all-you-care-to-eat ice cream and opportunities for others to enjoy the programming.
The future for the education department also holds growth. “We like to think big around here!” she said. “We’d like to have even larger, charismatic animals and have a long wish list of animals.” There are currently prairie dogs on the way into the collection, which are superb in helping teach about a key animal in Colorado.
The most important thing for the education department is to get people to realize what’s going on in our world. “We really try to foster that connection between people and animals because we feel like once you love and value animals, then you want to learn more about them.”