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A trip to Asia at the Denver Zoo ““ Toyota Elephant Passage now open

Lacy navigating Zoo June 2012

Everyone should have a good map reader with them at the Denver Zoo! (All photos by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved)

If you haven’t been to the Denver Zoo in a while, it’s a great time to go. The new Toyota Elephant Passage has opened and being a huge fan of the zoo, I had to go and check it out for myself, and for my HeidiTown citizens, of course.

I borrowed a friend’s 10-year-old so I didn’t look like the crazy kid-less lady at the zoo. I chose to take a kid who is as wild about wildlife as I am; and I’m not kidding, this girl reads animal encyclopedias for fun and she knew more about apes then one of the zoo volunteers we ran into.

Our smartest decision was to go first thing in the morning. Arriving at the zoo early is probably the best piece of advice you are going to get from reading this blog post. We arrived at the zoo as it opened at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday, and made our way straight to the Elephant Passage. This exhibit is so popular right now that they do timed entries so that they can keep the crowds manageable.

Due to our intelligent decision to arrive early, there were no crowds at Elephant Passage at 9:20 a.m. and we were able to leisurely stroll through the massive exhibit. It feels as though you are walking through an Asian village, complete with a real rickshaw and other props that transport you to the other side of the globe.

getting there early meant less crowds at the zoo

Getting to the zoo early meant less crowds at the Toyota Elephant Passage.

Another good reason to get to the zoo early is that the animals tend to be more active in the morning. Later in the day they head to their dens and under shrubberies to escape the noonday sun. As we entered the Elephant Passage at the Village Outpost we spied some young, spunky clouded leopards that were interacting with zoo keepers.

As we worked our way through the exhibit, there seemed to be elephants every which way we turned, as well as water. I love all the water features in the Elephant Passage and so do the geese that seem to think this is the perfect place in which to bring up their offspring – much to my delight there were baby goslings everywhere.

baby geese 3 baby geese 2 baby geese 1

The Schoelzel Family Village is the hub of Elephant Passage, and has a fascinating flying fox exhibit. Did you know that the wing span of a flying fox can be six feet? Inside this indoor exhibit you can also see Asian small clawed otters, always a hit with the spectators, and fishing cats, although these guys were hiding out while we were there.

Sarus Crane at the Denver Zoo

A Sarus Crane at in the Chang Pa Wildlife Preserve in the Toyota Elephant Exhibit at the Denver Zoo.

Our favorite part of Elephant Passage was the Chang Pa Wildlife Preserve. I liked it because it was fantastically photographable and my companion liked it because of the gibbons. These members of the ape family can swing right over visitors’ heads from “island” to “island” in the Chang Pa Wildlife Preserve. They were more interested in picking fleas off of each other while we were watching.

Since both of us had visited the Denver Zoo a number of times, the Elephant Passage was the highlight of this trip, although we toured most of the other parts of the zoo as well. The most exciting part of our day, however, was getting a glimpse of the baby Amur leopard, Makar.

The day before our visit, the eight-week-old cub was introduced for the first time to visitors at the zoo. Curled up with his mother right in front of the viewing area, it was hard to see where the baby leopard ended and where his mother began; those spots work well to camouflage the little guy. Due to poaching, loss of habitat and trophy hunting, less than 40 of these leopards remain in the wilds of Eastern Russia. It’s incredible that this critically endangered species has successfully reproduced at the Denver Zoo.

The Denver Zoo is open every day of the year. Summer hours (March 1 – October 31) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the grounds officially closing daily at 6 p.m. During winter the zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 to $15, depending on season and age of the visitor. The best deal is to become a member at DenverZoo.org.

See more pictures we took at the Denver Zoo on HeidiTown’s Facebook page.

 

HeidiTown Gives Back: Cal-Wood Education Center (Boulder, Colorado)

Cal-Wood Education Center logo

Nature has always played a significant role in my life. I was born in a hospital that overlooked the Pacific Ocean, I grew up in a house in the woods and we spent family vacations at National Parks across the western United States. Through these experiences I developed a relationship with nature, and an intense respect for the natural world, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

Many people never have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors. There are children who are never exposed to a forest or wildlife, and this can result in apathy towards nature, or even fear of nature.

This month’s HeidiTown Gives Back Campaign recipient is Cal-Wood Education Center located on a 1,200 acre property northwest of Boulder, Colorado, and dedicated to teaching people about the environment since 1981. The mission of this nonprofit is to offer a unique outdoor educational experience to youth and adults.

Hummingbird at Cal-Wood Education Center this Spring 2012. Photo courtesy of the organization's Facebook page.

The goals of Cal-Wood Education Center:

  1. To help all who come to Cal-Wood to develop a greater appreciation for the natural world.
  2. To offer environmental education to those who would not otherwise experience it.
  3. To provide unique educational opportunities in a mountain setting.

I am happy to be donating one free month of ad space to this worthy organization. If you’d like to learn more about how Cal-Wood Education Center achieves their goals, visit them online at Calwood.org. You can also join them on Facebook here.

HeidiTown.com on KRFC 88.9 FM – Earth Day Weekend, Colorado Style

flowering apple tree

Earth Day is April 22, 2012. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

It’s time for another HeidiTown segment on KRFC 88.9 FM. During the week these segments run Wednesday, between 12 and 12:30 p.m., and on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

For those of you who may wonder why I never mention the price of admission to events and festivals on the radio, it’s because it’s against the policy of public radio.  I am not even allowed to say whether an event is free because that’s a  momentary  value. So for those of you who have wondered, now you know the rest of the story!

The following is the transcript from the radio show, but if you prefer, you can listen to the show HERE.

***

Hi, my name is Heidi and I’m the Mayor of HeidiTown.com, a blog about events, festivals and travel around Colorado.

This is my segment for April 20 through the 22, 2012 and wow, this is a busy, busy weekend with everything from family-friendly festivals to jazz and science fiction. Eclectic, right?

First, Earth Day is Sunday, and there are lots of events planned around this celebration of Mother Earth.

To celebrate Earth Day in one of the most awe-inspiring places in Colorado, head to the Garden of the Gods. This Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m., there will be wildlife demonstrations, native American dance performances, crafts and live music. The annual Garden of the Gods park cleanup will be the same day. Go to GardenoftheGods.com for more information and directions.

Here in Fort Collins, Earth Day festivities will be held in Civic Center Park. There is a combination of activities planned and families are encouraged to bring along the kiddos. With informational booths, arts and crafts, live music, speakers, local food and a beer garden, it will be a great day to be in Old Town. Visit SustainableLivingAssociation.org for all the details.

There are many Earth Day events planned around Denver. The Museum of Nature and Science, one of my favorite museums in the country, has Earth-friendly family-fun on Sunday with GeoDome shows, crafts, renewable energy activities and more. Get info at DMNS.org.

The Denver Zoo, also one of my favorite places, is hosting a Party for the Planet on Friday, April 20 from 10 to 1. Learn about what local area students are doing in their own neighborhoods to save the planet. Learn more about this and other zoo activities at DenverZoo.org.

At the Denver Botanic Gardens enjoy Family Fun Nights – Earth Day Extravaganza on Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. On the first Saturday of each month, from April to October, families have the unique opportunity to explore nature at night in the Mordecal Children’s Garden. Each month brings a new theme with performers.

Get the entire lineup at BotanicGardens.org. And by the way, this facility is one of the top-rated botanic gardens in the US and you should plan to visit this season.  Just don’t forget your camera!

There are a few Earth Day events at local parks, including Barr State Park on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. This is their 42nd annual Earth Day Celebration, and one of my preferred bird watching areas in Colorado.  Also celebrate at Mueller State Park near Divide Colorado on Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m. Parents and children are invited to enjoy activities like crafts and hiking.

There are other events happening this weekend including the Mead Roubaix Festival on Sunday, April 22. I’ve previously mentioned this event that includes a bike race and a family-friendly festival. They have a large Kids Zone and bike tune ups, so you should definitely bring the kids and bikes to this event. Mom and dad can enjoy the vendors and beer garden while the kiddos play to their heart’s content. You can read all about the Mead Roubaix Festival on HeidiTown.com.

The 42nd UNC Greeley Jazz Festival is this weekend. This renowned event is one of the largest and most well respected of its kind in the country. Music lovers can learn more at Arts.UNCO.Edu.

Trekkies take note! StarFest is this weekend in DTC. This is Denver’s largest science fiction convention. There are 100 events taking places at three different convention hotels and special guests this year include Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek fame. There’s even… and I’m not making this up… a Klingon Feast planned. I’m also telling you that as a life-long trekkie, I totally want to go to this event!  Go to StarLand.com for the schedule and maybe I will see you there!

Phew, I told you this was a busy weekend.  There’s a lot more, but I’m running out of time, so be sure you tune into the blog and to HeidiTown’s Facebook page this week for more.  Remember, it’s Facebook.com/HeidiTown.comonFB.

I also tweet a lot of fun festival info and you can follow me on Twitter @HeidiTown. Lastly, you can circle the town on Google Plus.

If you missed anything today or need web info, I post a transcript of this show each week to HeidiTown.com.

Thanks for listening and until next time, I will see you online!  Or at a festival near you!

Celebrate Colorado Buy Local Week with FREE t-shirts from LoyalTee & HeidiTown

It’s Buy Local Week here in Colorado, and around the country. There are so many reasons why it’s good to buy local, and according to ColoradoLocalFirst.com, there are five main reasons.

1. Environment By buying things closer to home you are cutting down on fossil fuel use, reducing your carbon impact AND saving money!

2. Local Economy Local businesses buy more often from other local businesses, so the money you spend is retained in the community in a more concentrated fashion.

3. Local Flavor The experience at a local establishment is unique – providing the local flavor of the area.

4. Community Care Local entrepreneurs are more connected to our community, because they live here, too! They are more likely to get involved in community efforts and activities.

5. Voicing Your Opinion By buying locally you are saying, “Hey, I like this business and the neighborhood wouldn’t be the same without it.”

So without further ado, to celebrate Buy Local Week here on HeidiTown, I’ve joined forces with a local Colorado company, LoyalTee, a Denver-based t-shirt company. LoyalTee is a collection of shirts featuring local landmarks, like Johnson’s Corner, Stadium Inn, and Duranglers Fly Fishing, to name a few.

Johnsons Corner t-shirt

All LoyalTee shirts are made in the USA, and a percentage of all sales goes to the business feature on the shirt. I absolutely love this company and their concept, so I was very happy when they decided to be a part of a HeidiTown contest.

In addition to getting a $23 gift certificate and free shipping to LoyalTee, the lucky winner of this contest will also get a HeidiTown t-shirt!

HeidiTown t-shirt on blue

Just leave me a comment  telling me your favorite Colorado landmark and you’ll be entered. As usually, I will pick the winner (at random) on Friday afternoon, Dec. 2, 2011, at approximately 3 p.m.

It’s hard for me to pick just one favorite Colorado landmark, but today I think I’ll go with the Bucksnort Saloon.   I love that the Bucksnort is located up a long dirt road. I love their un-level floors, and I especially love their forest fire burger with jalapenos and cream cheese.

Good luck!

~ Contest Closed ~


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