2023 Annual Report

As one of the city’s oldest and most beloved gathering places, Denver Zoo understands that our role is not only to connect humans with the wonders of wildlife—but also to serve as an enduring cornerstone for the communities we serve. Realizing our mission, Inspiring Communities to Save Wildlife for Future Generations, is only possible when we are deeply engaged with the people around us.

Providing a warm welcome has always been second nature here at the Zoo. In 2023 alone, we ushered smiling faces through our gates and received a host of beautiful new babies and arriving animals. Last year we became the first Zoo in Colorado to earn the Certified Autism CenterTM distinction and provided guests with free or discounted admission via Free Days, SNAP, EBT and other Community Connections Equitable Access Programs. Our guests feel like they belong here…because they do.

What we’ve come to understand, though, is that belonging begins within. That’s why 2023 saw the creation of an ambitious new department wholly dedicated to building and embodying our vision of an even more accessible and inclusive future.

Scroll on to see how Denver Zoo and our community served one another in 2023.

Bert Vescolani Signature

Bert Vescolani | President and CEO


In September, Denver Zoo again received accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums–setting us apart as one of only 238 institutions in the world to meet the highest standards of animal care, veterinary medicine, conservation, education and more.


In March, Denver Zoo became the first zoo in Colorado to earn The Certified Autism Center designation from The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. We’re proud to be creating a more welcoming, inclusive and accessible zoo.


The 22,000-sq.-ft. Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Animal Hospital was honored by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums with a 2023 significant achievment in facilities award! Our state-of-the-art hospital was made possible by the 2017 GO Bond as well as our donor family.

“A truly welcoming workplace is built with intentionality. So, while our new Belonging Division is grounded in principles centered on inclusive leadership, community, accountability and cultural humility, it will ultimately be rooted in our shared humanity as a collection of individuals with a boundless spectrum of perspectives and lived experiences. It is my honor to walk with them on this journey.”
—Elkin Alfred, SVP of Belonging


Every baby born at Denver Zoo is adorable—but our littlest wild ones are even more precious when they’re the result of a Species Survival Plan partnership. As an AZA-accredited institution, we work with accredited zoos around the country to maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations of the species under our care.


Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth


Sumatran Orangutan

Rocket + Slinky

Asian Small-Clawed Otters


Eastern Mountain Bongo

Well, fiddle-dee-dee: every eastern mountain bongo birth at Denver Zoo is a victory for this Critically Endangered species!



Swing by Primate Panorama to say hello to Zola and the rest of our colorful mandrill troop!

Marcus + Steppy

African Penguins

Our two newest Critically Endangered African penguin chicks, Marcus and Steppy, have waddled right into our hearts.


Humboldt Penguin

Little Nazca’s species is Threatened in the wild due to habitat loss and fishing nets—but our newest Humboldt chick is thriving.


Sulawesi Forest Turtle

Tropical Discovery Animal Care Specialists have hatched 20+ Critically Endangered turtles.

Grand Openings


Opened November 2023

Inspired by the stark landscapes of the Andean Highlands, our flock’s new strutting grounds features a shady, circulated lagoon, a dedicated nesting area and space for guest encounters.


Opened October 2023

This realistic virtual reality experience puts you in the heart of African jungle with a real troop of Critically Endangered mountain gorillas—from adorable infants to intimidating silverbacks.

Welcome Wagon: 2023 New Arrivals


Amur Tiger


Common Ostrich

There’s nothing common about our 9-foot-tall, Backstreet-Boys-lovin’, one-of-a-kind dino-chicken Dusty!


Asian Elephant

Lightfoot, Divine, Takeoff + Chandler

Chilean Flamingos

Bruno + Banshee

American Alligators (Albino)

Chicken + Biscuit

Red-Flanked Duikers

These two cuties, both of whom joined us as part of the Species Survival Plan, will make their public debut this summer.


Sumatran Tiger

Beautiful ChloJo the Sumatran tiger is an ambassador for her species, which we’re also working to protect in the wild.

Tristan + Pearl

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo



“Welcoming” is a Denver Zoo core value—one which we strive to live every day. We are proud to be educating the next generation of wildlife advocates with $2.8M in scholarships given to 480,000 students. And, since 2020, two million guests have enjoyed free or reduced admission with scholarships and other discount programs.

On the Horizon

In 2023, we began planning and construction on two incredible new exhibits, continuing our tireless quest for excellence in both animal care and guest experience.


Opening in 2024

With Wallaby Way, an immersive pathway experience offering an up-close look at two of Australia’s most charismatic species, Down Under is our most ambitious project in years.


Opening in 2025

New beaches for frolicking, new docks for floating,
a clearer window to wonder and a stronger conservation story to tell—there’s so much for our California sea lions to look forward to!

Denver Zoological Foundation: 2023 Financials