DOD Insider Tour | Denver Zoo: Designing Zoos

Sunday, October 2 + Saturday, October 8, 2022

Join us for this in-person Doors Open Denver 2022 Insider Tour at the Denver Zoo. Two tour dates are available:

  • Sunday, October 2, 9-10:30am
  • Saturday, October 8, 9-10:30am

About the tour: Learn about the history of animal habitat design and how the philosophy evolved from Denver Zoo’s early days to shape the thoughtful and varied exhibits visitors see today. Discover how zoos and designers consider the safety and enjoyment of visitors while keeping animals’ needs at the forefront. Visit locations around Denver Zoo, including African Penguin Point, Toyota Elephant Passage, Benson Predator Ridge and Tropical Discovery, to see exhibit design concepts brought to life. Go behind-the-scenes and explore how critical animal life systems are concealed from the public in clever ways.

About Denver Zoo: At 126 years old, Denver Zoo is one of the oldest and most visited public institutions in Colorado, welcoming more than 1.4 million visitors annually. The experience for both visitor and animal has transformed dramatically over the course of its history. In the last century, Denver Zoo has created award-winning animal habitats, designed to optimize animal health and wellbeing, along with a state-of-the-art animal hospital. The campus is also representative of Denver’s architectural history, as the grounds feature 100 buildings of various styles, from Victorian to contemporary. With over 3,000 wild animals to house, feed and care for, the buildings are not only aesthetically pleasing, but contain highly complex operating systems to keep animals healthy and comfortable.

About the tour guide: Bert Vescolani, President and CEO, Denver Zoo, is a marine biologist and educator by training. His encyclopedic knowledge of animals’ needs is key to his leadership, not only for planning new exhibits, but for maintaining all exhibits, some decades old. A passionate advocate for optimizing the guest experience while ensuring that animals thrive, Bert oversees all Denver Zoo operations, including the planning and construction of over $50 million in new habitats and improvements currently underway at Denver Zoo. An engaging wildlife advocate and institutional leader, Bert has led zoo, science and aquarium teams for more than 20 years, with leadership roles at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium and Saint Louis Science Center. He joined Denver Zoo in 2018.

Please note: While Denver Zoo is a beloved family destination, the content of this tour has been developed with adults in mind. Due to Denver Zoo safety protocols, no attendee on this tour may be under the age of 9.

Accessibility: This 90-minute walking tour will cover the Denver Zoo campus along paved walking paths. Benches for brief rest will be available along the route.