Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
A long black tongue gracefully curls towards the offered cracker. In the blink of an eye the crisp goody disappears down an elongated neck. Almost as a thank you ears give a tiny twitch before she turns to look for the next treat.
We’re engaged with the nearly two dozen reticulated giraffes in the African Rift Valley Exhibit of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Elevated decking allows intrigued visitors to stand at nose-to-nose level with the gentle herd – the largest of any zoo. We learn the receptive tongues measure 18-21 inches with the inside portion pink in color and the visible last six inches a deep purplish-black. Who can resist purchasing the special nutrition-formulated giraffe crackers?
Although additional animal encounters await, like many visitors, we find it difficult to move away from our favorite exhibit. Even after we’re out of crackers we enjoy watching others interact with the giraffes. While the adults nonchalantly move around the large outdoor enclosure two five-month-old male calves dart here, there and everywhere. Barely avoiding a belly flop, Mashaba skids to a halt with legs widely splayed. We’re able to identify the giraffes by name from exhibit information describing each unique reticulated (netlike) pattern.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo giraffe herd can be found outside during zoo hours on dry days with local temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors enjoy watching the long-necked creatures pass through their specially designed drawbridge at 9:15am and afternoon – 4pm in winter, 5pm in summer.