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Denver Zoo Day gives Colorado lawmakers something to squawk about

April 18, 2017 Updated: April 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm
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Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, snaps a photo of a prehensile-tailed porcupine during Denver Zoo Day at the state Capitol Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of the Denver Zoo)

The Colorado statehouse on Tuesday is where the wild things were -- a big lizard, a prickly porcupine and a brightly featured bird among the delegation.

"I would like to welcome all the wild animals to the Capitol," said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, "And it's also Zoo Day."

Everyone laughed then paid tribute to one of the state's signature tourist attractions and institutions of learning and research, the Denver Zoo.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver, intoduced the resolution and introduced the human dignitaries, including zoo president and chief executive Shannon Block and board chairwoman Sherri Koelbel.

With more than 2 million visitors annually, the Denver Zoo is Colorado's most visited cultural institution.

It started with one bear in 1896 and today is home to more than 4,100 animals and about 600 species, including some that are threatened or endangered species.

Denver's zoo has been lauded as an international leader in animal welfare, education and conservation with staff working on almost 600 projects in more than 60 countries on seven continents over the past two decades.

"Denver Zoo brings science education alive," states the resolution passed enthusiastically by both chambers Tuesday.

The zoo said about half its admissions are free or discounted, about 225,000 students from more than 1,100 schools visit annually.

The Denver Zoo also has been recognized as one of the "greenest" in the country and was the first to win the Green Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for environmental sustainability efforts.

Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, thanked the zoo and zookeepers for so richly embracing Colorado's human community.

"Thank you every single day you're out in the community trying to make it a better place," he said.

But to be clear, if you see a gorilla out in your community, call the zoo right away.

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