Weld County will eventually house hoofed mammals and other endangered species as the Denver Zoo is expanding into a 570-acre facility.
In an effort to expand its animal care and conservation breeding efforts, the land is nearly seven times the size of the zoo’s 84-acre urban campus in City Park.
“The Lembke Family Preserve represents the start of a new era for Denver Zoo and will dramatically expand our capabilities for our animals and Colorado wildlife as we build it out in the coming years,” said Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of Denver Zoo, in a statement.
Donated by the Lembke family, the expansion will not be open to the public.
“We are deeply grateful to the Lembke family for their generosity and mutual understanding that saving wildlife for future generations requires a dedicated community of donors, members, partners and neighbors,” Vescolani said.
Zebras and Eastern Bongos are likely to be some of the first species introduced once the expansion is complete.
Phase one of development will involve expanding current Species Survival Plans (SSP) breeding efforts and give space for growing animal families. It will also increase the organization’s holding capacity, providing space to temporarily relocate animals during habitat maintenance and renovations on its Denver campus.
The second phase will involve developing a conservation center focused on conservation breeding and a reintroduction of species threatened or endangered in Colorado and other areas.
It’s likely that some of the first species to be part of the expansion will be ungulates, like eastern bongos or zebras, according to Denver Zoo Director of Communications Jake Kubié.
“Denver Zoo has been part of our family tradition since the late 1950s,” Lemkre said. “Both Carol and I loved visiting the old zoo of our childhood, and we took our kids there many times. It’s always a special family outing. With the stewardship provided to endangered species by the Zoo through The Preserve, we hope that the Zoo can be part of our family for generations.”