If you haven’t heard, Denver Zoo just opened a new grizzly bear exhibit called Harmony Hill, home to their two rescued residents, Tundra and Kootenai. Both bears arrived at the Zoo in 2002 following unfortunate circumstances that required their rescue from the wild. Kootenai (pictured above) arrived first after his sibling was hit by a car and he was separated from his mother. Tundra (side photo) soon followed as a companion for Kootenai after her mother was euthanized for being a “problem” bear in an Alaskan community.
Denver Zoo designed Harmony Hill to bring Tundra’s and Kootenai’s stories to the forefront and help guests learn how they can live in harmony (hence the name) with bears in the wild and their own backyards. In the Zoo’s words, they “hope a visit to the new exhibit inspires you to be an advocate for bears and other wildlife by serving as a role model for friends and family, and encourages them to take the same actions.”
HERE ARE 5 REASONS TO VISIT HARMONY HILL
1. Two-Fold Learning Experience
Harmony Hill is an immersive exhibit comprised of two parts: Harmony Hill State Park, which is designed to evoke camping, recreating and hiking as you would when visiting one of Colorado’s state or national parks; and Harmony Hill Neighborhood, which mimics a neighborhood backyard and highlights the actions people should take to deter bears from entering human areas.
2. Plenty of Surprises
You’ll find Easter eggs throughout the exhibit, like footprints and other evidence of bears that you might find in the wild. Through new vantage points, you’ll be able to watch Tundra and Kootenai explore, roam, climb, dig and find new places to nap. Be sure to stop by the den, a cool, shaded area where those bears often come right up to the glass for a VERY up-close look!
3. Daily Demonstrations
Harmony Hill also features a “working wall” that Denver Zoo animal care staff can use for daily training sessions that benefit both the animals and guests. You’ll get to learn more about Tundra and Kootenai from the keepers that care for them every day, while the bears get an extra dose of mental and physical stimulation.
4. Natural Behaviors on Display
Both sides of Harmony Hill are designed with the bears’ needs in mind, and provide plenty of opportunities for them to exercise their natural behaviors. There are areas and structures for Tundra and Kootenai to climb, dig and den, and they’ll have access to the variety of substrates they would encounter in the wild, including sand, mulch, wood, rocks and grass.
5. Non-Traditional Design
Denver Zoo custom-designed common backyard items, like a bird feeder, hammock and swimming pool, specifically for their bears. Each of these items is designed to mentally stimulate the grizzlies, which helps exercise their minds and is an important part of their overall health. What’s more, they designed this exhibit to show what can happen when bears enter backyards and highlight the actions guests can take to avoid conflict, like removing birdfeeders at certain times of the year and being sure to bring pet food inside.
Harmony Hill is located on the east side of the Zoo right next to the giraffe habitat, and open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are daily talks and demonstrations with the Zoo’s animal care experts sharing information about what it takes to care for the bears and how we all can help keep bears wild. Visit DenverZoo.org for more information!