Magazine article Sunset

Arctic Visitors, Free-Flying Birds, and Five Concerts at Denver's Zoo

Magazine article Sunset

Arctic Visitors, Free-Flying Birds, and Five Concerts at Denver's Zoo

Article excerpt

Two years in the building, the Denver Zoo's Northern Shores exhibit is well worth the wait. The 3-1/2-acre gallery of arctic animals-from polar bears to snowy owls-is the first of its kind in the Rockies. Built at a cost of some $4.3 million, Northern Shores re-creates the animals' natural habitats.

Now is a good time to visit: the animals have had time to adjust to their new surroundings and are lively and active. Even if you're just passing through Denver, it's worth scheduling a quick stop at the zoo. It's just 10 minutes from Stapleton airport. Best time to visit is in the morning, when animals are most active.

Summer also brings the Zoofest concert series, featuring jazz, blues, and classical music (see schedule at right).

The two adult and four young polar bears are the main attractions at Northern Shores. One of the most dangerous animals (to man) in nature, here they seem playful as they dive off rocks and tussle with each other. An underwater viewing area in the young bears' pool lets you watch them swim; they use front paws only, in a dog-paddle style.

Nearby are two aloof-looking snowy owls. The female is the bigger of the pair, with a 5-1/2-foot wingspan. They're generally silent but will open their beaks and hiss when threatened. The arctic fox habitat is next door, but you have to get up early to catch sight of these three shy creatures (mostly nocturnal, they live in burrows). If you do see one, it will have gray-brown summer fur; this turns white in winter. The river otter, in a nearby exhibit, is playful and easy to spot as are the California sea lions in their big, rock-lined tank. At two times each day, you can watch a free show starring the trained sea lions. Around the corner are three sloeeyed harbor seals.

Also at the zoo: exotic birds, more animals, summer concerts

Bird World. …

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