-- Meet the more than 40 species now on display in one of the oldest buildings at
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo --

June 22, 2012, Colorado Springs, CO – One of the oldest buildings at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo just got a makeover. It’s now a “lizard lounge” of sorts, with an art gallery twist. Technically speaking it’s a traveling exhibit, since some of the art has legs.

Earlier this year, crews gutted the former Bird and Reptile House, which had been vacant for the past four years. They transformed it into an urban loft art gallery featuring over 40 species of reptiles, from baby alligators, to colorful monitors, to a red tail boa constrictor. But you won’t see the animals in traditional habitats.

“When we started this project, we threw everything we knew about traditional reptile exhibits out the window,” says Education Curator Nicole Mantz. “We spent a lot of time talking with guests, finding out about their preconceived notions.”

In this exhibit, the enclosures are the canvas, coming to life with non-traditional objects and substrate, like colorful glass gems, vases, and pool slides. It all plays off of the natural beauty of the reptiles. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff hopes the unique setting will diminish reptile fears, making the animals more understandable.

“We wanted guests to see reptiles in a different light, and because of the way the exhibit is designed, you don’t have to necessarily love snakes and other reptiles to appreciate how beautiful they are,” says Mantz. “It’s definitely a memorable experience.”

See photos of the reptile gallery here.

The building, which went up in the early 1940s, has been renamed the Scutes Family Gallery; the name doesn’t honor a donor, but rather references the underbelly scales of most reptiles. Funding for the renovation was made possible by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s $13.5 million Encounter Africa capital campaign, which also includes a new exhibit for its herd of four elephants and brings the critically endangered black rhino back to Colorado Springs.

Find out more about Encounter Africa here.

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