Lions, tigers and bears alike are being mended at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on Saturday.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is hosting its Teddy Bear Day for the 31st year, an event that brings children and their stuffed animals together with representatives from Children’s Hospital Colorado to help mend the fear often associated with medical care.

“It’s really an opportunity for kids to interact with medical professionals, build some trust with them, ask any questions they might have. If they’re nervous normally in the health care setting, this helps build those relationships,” says Rachel Wright, public relations manager for the zoo.

Medical professionals will be at the Lodge at Moose Lake, examining the stuffed animals, recording their condition and giving certificates of “Bear-y Good Health.” Children can watch as their animals are given stitches, shots and bandages, undergo X-rays and come out of the clinic better than ever.

“The very same doctors, nurses and other health care professionals that care for kids in Colorado Springs will be there to help provide stitches, splints and other medical procedures on teddy bears, says Pam Johnson-Carlson, chief nursing officer for Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. We want kids to know that the doctor’s office or a hospital doesn’t have to be scary.”

There will be medical-themed demonstrations throughout the zoo. Vendors will be at the Lodge for a medical expo, where kids and adults alike can learn about medicine and meet the zoo’s outreach animals. Animal demonstrations will show how the critters present their teeth and paws to the keepers to help check the health of the animal.

Wright says, “It’s a great way for kids to familiarize themselves with the health care community and what they can expect if they need to visit a doctor, the hospital or the dentist. They can see that their animal friends are OK with it, so that might reduce any anxiety.”

Teddy Bear Day is also a discounted admission day. Children ages 3-11 who come with their furry friend will receive $10 off of admission. Children 2 and under can get their tickets for just 75 cents, and zoo members get in for free. The event opens at the same time as the zoo, at 9 a.m., and runs until 4 p.m.

“Children’s Hospital does such a good job at providing those kid-friendly environments,” Wright says. “It’s a neat opportunity for us to provide this fun atmosphere. Kids are used to coming to the zoo and hopefully always having a really great time, so this is a cool opportunity to provide an environment that’s already fun.”

Kate Powell, The Gazette, kate.powell@gazette.com

Kate Powell is a recent graduate from the University of Denver, having studied Journalism and Socio-Legal Studies. She self identifies as a writer and a pet mom, and joined the Gazette Features staff in 2019.

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