EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo CEO

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The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo recvently earned a rare level of excellence on its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Our zoo did it with a ‘clean’ inspection report, which has only happened four times in the 50-year history of AZA accreditations.

The AZA accreditation is considered the gold standard for zoos and aquariums. There are approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture, but only 242 are accredited by the AZA.

Matt Meister had the opportunity to hear about the accreditation process from Bob Chastain, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo CEO, to understand the deep detail of the inspection, the importance of culture and the people that make the zoo world class.

The AZA looks at the entire operation, including animal welfare, veterinary care, conservation, education, guest services, physical facilities, safety, staffing, finance, master and strategic planning, and governing body.

“Think about every animal, habitat, walkway, structure, sign, gate and building you see when you visit the Zoo,” said Chastain. “Then think about everything in between and all of the behind-the-scenes work being done to maintain and improve this space. Think about the important work you don’t see first-hand, like our conservation work. Our Quarters for Conservation program has raised $3.5 million for frontline conservation partners, fighting to save wildlife and wild places.”

Chastain says the zoo is focused on helping guests guests have excellent experiences. One of the six ‘especially noteworthy’ things the inspection team reported was how the teams create spontaneous experiences that create unique opportunities to connect the guests with animals.

“We’re always looking for the opportunity to help our guests feel a connection with our animals,” said Chastain, “because we want to inspire them to protect wildlife and wild places.

“I’m incredibly proud of this team,” he continued. “Excellence is a journey that at any point you can stop and when you do the backwards slide begins. With this clean inspection, we can’t rest on our past successes. We have now set a new standard.”

Future of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Bob and Matt discuss the future of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

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