COLORADO SPRINGS — 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.
This week, our adventure takes us to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to tour Waters Edge: Africa.
The exhibit opened to the public in June of 2020, and features more than a half dozen animals that includes a growing family of hippos.
Kasai, the largest of the hippos, weighs 3,600 pounds.
During our visit, she's putting on a show for us at Hippo Plaza.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo prides themselves on intimate guest experiences with their animals, and today, we get to feed Kasai.
Joining me at Knife Edge Pool Is Waters Edge: Africa's Lead Animal Keeper Philip Waugh.
He brings with him a cooler full of treats, including a large melon that I get to place into Kasai's mouth.
Getting to feed Kasai is an amazing experience, but for most zoo-goers, catching a sneak peek of the new baby hippo is the main draw.
"This entire exhibit was built with water conservation in mind and was also built with the idea of breeding Nile hippopotamus," said Waugh.
The zoo says that they plan to name the baby hippo soon, so stay tuned.
We also meet warthogs and guinea pigs during our visit, but getting to see the African penguins up close is another highlight of the new exhibit.
We watch them swim, hang out at the beach, and walk along designated pathways around their exhibit that puts them side-by-side with guests.
No baby penguins for now, but according to Waugh, that could be changing soon.
"So we're hoping to have our first little baby African penguin chicks arrive sometime soon, but we're really not quite certain on when," said Waugh.
In just the first year of Water's Edge: Africa, Waugh has seen more and more animals arrive, including baby ring-tailed lemurs.
"We have six ring-tailed lemurs. Just a few months ago, we only had three," said Waugh.
But no matter the size of the family here, Waugh has this to say about working at the zoo.
"One thing that I love about being a keeper in this area is that every day is a little bit different and every day I learn something new about the guests who come here and as well about the animals," said Waugh.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is open year round and for now, reservations are still required.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit cmzoo.org.