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2023 Annual Report

Past Annual Reports

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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. Bert Vescolani Portrait

Providing a warm welcome has always been second nature here at the Zoo. In 2023 alone, we ushered [TBD] 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 [TBD] 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

LAURELS: NOTABLE MOMENTS

Accreditation Awarded

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.

Certified Autism Center

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.

Animal Hospital Award

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.

Culture of Connection

"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

WILD WELCOME: 2023 BABY BOOM

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.

Tap or roll over to learn more about each Zoo baby!

Wickett

WICKET

Linne’s Two-Toed Sloth

Fiddle

FIDDLE

Eastern Mountain Bongo

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

Humboldt

NAZCA

Humbolt Penguin

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

Siska

SISKA

Sumatran Orangutan

Zola

ZOLA

Mandrill

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

Selwasi Turtle

MICHELANGELO

Sulawesi Forest Turtle

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

SlinkyRocket

ROCKET + SLINKY

Asian Small-Clawed Otters

Steppy

MARCUS + STEPPY

African Penguins

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

GRAND OPENINGS

FlamingoExhibit

FLAMINGO HABITAT

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.

GorillaTrek

GORILLA TREK

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

Animals rescued from untenable situations or transferred to our care from AZA-accredited partner zoos also play an important part in the long-term success of our shared mission! Here are just a few of the wonderful animals we welcomed into the Denver Zoo family last year.

Viktor

VIKTOR

Amur Tiger

Flamingo chicks

LIGHTFOOT, DIVINE, TAKEOFF + CHANDLER

Chilean Flamingos

Chlojo

CHLOJO

Sumatran Tiger

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

Dusty

DUSTY

Common Ostrich

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

Banshee

BRUNO +
BANSHEE

American Alligators (Albino)

TreeKangaroo

TRISTAN + PEARL

Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo

Denver Gazette

Duncan

DUNCAN

Asian Elephant

Chicken

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.

PHILANTHROPY IN ACTION

INTO THE GREAT WILD OPEN

IN LATE 2023, DENVER ZOO LAUNCHED THE FINAL PHASE OF OUR “INTO THE GREAT WILD OPEN” CAMPAIGN, WITH A GOAL OF $75M. WITH THE HELP OF OUR DONORS, WE ARE WORKING TO ENSURE THAT OUR ZOO REMAINS WILD: WELCOMING, INTERACTIVE, LONG-LASTING + DEVOTED FOR GENERATIONS.

COLORADO GIVES DAY

FROM DURABLE TOYS FOR OUR HARD-PLAYING PACHYDERMS TO A SKY-HIGH HOME FOR OUR NEW TREE KANGAROOS, OUR DONORS CAME OUT IN DROVES FOR COLORADO GIVES DAY. OUR CGD ‘23 EFFORTS RAISED $265K+ IN SUPPORT THE DENVER ZOO’S WORLD-CLASS CARE AND AWARD-WINNING HABITATS.

FLOCK PARTY

OUR FOURTH ANNUAL FLOCK PARTY WAS OUR MOST BRILLIANT BENEFIT TO DATE! THE COLORFUL EVENT, WHICH RAISED NEARLY $500K FOR DENVER ZOO, HOSTED MORE THAN 2,000 GUESTS AND FEATURED LIVE MUSIC AND FASHION ILLUSTRATIONS, AN ANIMAL ARTWORK AUCTION, ARTISAN EATS + MUCH MORE.

BABY CAMPAIGNS

WHILE ALL OUR ZOO BABIES ARE SPECIAL, AN EXTRA-SPECIAL FEW ARE DESERVING OF OUR GRATITUDE! SISKA THE SUMATRAN ORANGUTAN, WICKET THE SLOTH, AND ROCKET + SLINKY THE ASIAN SMALL-CLAWED OTTERS ALL HELPED US RAISE FUNDS WITH BABY REGISTRIES OR NAMING CAMPAIGNS. THANKS, LITTLE ONES!

ACCESS + APPRECIATION: 2023 MILESTONES

"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.

2023
January 6, 2023

Welcoming 2023 with our first of 7 Free Days—serving a total of 32,697 guests

February 11, 2023
We celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science by awarding six Women in Conservation Scholarships of $5,000 each

We celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science by awarding six Women in Conservation Scholarships of $5,000 each

March 2, 2023

Lakota artist Danielle SeeWalker honors Quill the porcupine with traditional quillwork

March 16, 2023

Denver Zoo donates 35 American bison to local Native American tribes

March 22, 2023

Completion of Predator Ridge Pathway Project (2021 RISE Denver GO Bond) 

April 29, 2023

Denver Zoo hosts third annual Día del Niño: Celebrating All Children event 

May 6, 2023

Denver Zoo hosts second annual Asian American and Pacific Islander+ Festival 

June 1, 2023

We co-host annual Black Birders event, in partnership with Women’s Wilderness 

July 1, 2023

All summer long: our Community Engagement Team connects the community with the wonders of wildlife

July 4, 2023

Denver Zoo volunteers provide 12 free tours for 41 active and former U.S. service members 

August 1, 2023

We offer 50% off admission + memberships for Colorado Day and Celebrate Colorado

October 21, 2023

In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Día de los Muertos, we host an ofrenda built by local artist

November 4, 2023

In honor of Miliary Appreciation week, we offer free daytime admission to active, veteran and retired military personnel + their families

December 31, 2023

Zoo Lights: Low-Sensory Night welcomes people with sensory processing disorders 

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.

2023_AnnualReport_DownUnder

DOWN UNDER

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.

2023_AnnualReport_SeaLion

SEA LION HABITAT

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