June 17, 2020

Local Artists Beautify Denver Zoo Campus


After our 11-week closure due to COVID-19, and as we planned for our re-opening, we knew modifications were in order to ensure our Denver Zoo campus was both safe and functional for our guests’ return. In addition to limiting the campus capacity and instituting a one-way traffic flow, we were determined to make sure our grounds remained beautiful, inviting and most importantly, all about animals!

To accomplish this, we invited local artists to help us beautify our 80-acre campus and enhance our increased safety measures. The list of artists includes individuals whose work has been featured previously on campus, as well as others who have been active in Denver’s street art scene.

Tsogo Majid’s Mongolian-inspired paintings already adorn the Zoo’s 4D Theater, making his depiction of Bactrian camels a natural choice. He shared, “The Mongolian community here in Denver is fairly new and flourishing every year, so it’s nice to have a sense of home with the Mongolian animals and murals at Denver Zoo.”

Mural by: Tsogo Majid
Mural by: Tsogo Majid

Luan Bui was inspired by colorful Colorado landscapes and the Asian-themed Toyota Elephant Passage. “The Asian Elephant mural shows the love between a mother and her baby. The background shows Colorado's colorful sunset,” he shared. “Although these animals are not Colorado natives, I wanted to bring in aspects that showed Colorado, like the mountains and our beautiful colorful Colorado sunsets.”


Mural by: Luan Bui
Mural by: Luan Bui

Artist Ratha Sok felt the strongest connection to our Amur tigers and capuchin monkeys because of her Cambodia roots, saying, “The tiger really spoke to me because of its leadership qualities and its respect as a wild animal. As for the monkeys, they are more playful, curious and interesting to me due to their primitive nature.”

Mural by: Ratha Sok
Mural by: Ratha Sok

We also had the pleasure of inviting former Denver Zoo staff member Charlotte Bassin back to campus to enliven a place very near and dear to her heart.

“A few years ago, I made the difficult decision to leave Denver Zoo to pursue my dream of being a professional artist. Imagine my joy when the zoo reached out to invite me to take part in this community art project, as a participant among some of Denver's most talented mural artists!” exclaimed Charlotte.

“I was thrilled to be given 'reptiles and amphibians' as the theme of my mural. As a designer, I have always loved the graphic nature of the shapes of lizards, frogs and snakes. I thought using bold colors and fun designs would be a nice way to bring beauty and joy to the guests as they are finally able to get out of their houses and back to the Zoo. I also love the idea that the mural would appeal to kids, encouraging a sense of wonder and awe. I thought this was a great way for them to experience those animals from a new perspective... an artsy one!”

Mural by: Charlotte Bassin
Mural by: Charlotte Bassin

Artist Pat McKinney also drew inspiration from one of our more colorful collections: our birds! He designed his mural, The Fab Flock, to be especially vibrant and lively.

Mural by: Pat McKinney
Mural by: Pat McKinney

The murals have been installed throughout the Zoo and serve multi-functional purposes. While some of the designs will assist with wayfinding, others help camouflage the fencing that’s been put up to establish a new one-way route around our 80-acre campus. Regardless of their purpose, each mural artistically represents our mission by inspiring our community to save wildlife for future generations.


Below, you’ll find each artist, the mural they created and where you can find it on campus. Heartfelt gratitude goes out to the Bonfils Stanton Foundation for their willingness to re-purpose a prior gift, along with the generous donor family who helped bring this idea to life for us and our guests. And to each one of our artists: thank you so much for your talent, time and creativity—and for enhancing our campus in a way we had never even imagined!


Gates Education Center West Entrance

  • Charlotte Bassin
  • Portfolio: wanderandwonder.org/
  • Inspiration: Representation of the diversity of reptiles and amphibians

West Side of Black Rhino Yard

Central Ranges

Bird World

  • Artist: Pat McKinney
  • Portfolio: patmckinneyart.com/
  • Inspiration: Representation of the diversity of bird species

4D Theater Entrance

  • Artist: Tsogo Majid
  • Portfolio: tsogomijid.com/
  • Inspiration: Mongolia and the Bactrian camel

Monkey Island

  • Artist: Ratha Sok
  • Portfolio: rathasok.com/
  • Inspiration: brown capuchin monkey

Entrance to the EDGE

  • Artist: Ratha Sok
  • Portfolio: rathasok.com/
  • Inspiration: Amur tiger

Entrance to Northern Shores

Entrance to Primate Panorama

Bear Mountain

  • Artist: Pat Milbery
  • Portfolio: patmilberry.com/
  • Inspiration: Thank you to our community!
Mural by: Pat Milbery
Mural by: Pat Milbery
Mural by: Armando Silva
Mural by: Armando Silva


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