PUEBLO — In our exclusive new series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
Home to more than 400 animals, the Pueblo Zoo can be found on the west side of town in City Park.
Our adventure this week gives us the unique opportunity to spend some time at the zoo with the African Black Footed Penguins.
"Typically when you think about penguins, you probably think of the snow and Antarctica, cold climates. But these guys come from the southern tip of Africa," Animal Supervisor Brittany Merlo said.
These animals flourished around the early 1900s.
Merlo tells News 5 that during this time, there were more than one million African Penguin pairs.
Today, there's only 25,000 pairs left.
The African Penguins are one of the most endangered species on the planet, and the Pueblo Zoo boasts a collection of 13.
Merlo tells us that their sharp decline is mainly due to over harvesting the fish they eat.
This has destroyed a lot of their habitats.
"The African Penguins also a very compelling conservation story. They're endangered in the wild, and we like to teach people what they can do," said Executive Director Abbie Krause.
Being responsible about what kinds of fish we eat and what companies we buy from are a few ways in which we can help.
This goal of sustainability falls in line with the zoo's mission - empower, engage, and conserve.
Now for the fun part...getting to spend some time with these birds behind the scenes.
With COVID-19 restrictions more relaxed this year, the zoo has brought back some of their most popular behind the scenes experiences.
We meet Quinn, one of the zoo's ambassadors, and Maverick, who proves to be quite entertaining.
"Their personalities are huge and that makes them one of the most fun animals to work with in my opinion," Merlo said.
Before we move on, Merlo heads back to the exhibit to feed the penguins a medley of fish.
Marking her notepad carefully so that everyone gets their fair share of food.
Executive Director Abbie Krause tells me that after a successful ZooBoo event last weekend, they're already looking forward to Military Weekend in early November, and Electricritters, which kicks off November 26th.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.pueblozoo.org.