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Denver Zoo's Be a Zookeeper Zone. Photo courtesy Denver Zoo.

Where to Take Curious Kids for Hands-On Animal Experiences

National Zookeeper Week (July 15-21) brings hands-on fun for animal-loving kids.

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Whether your kiddo is into dinosaurs, thinks mermaids are real, or can’t help but giggle when they see sloths in real life, National Zookeeper Week, July 15-21, is a chance to check out some of Denver’s hands-on animal activities. We haven’t limited our list to only the zoo, we’ve included more fun places where kids can learn about animals, conservation efforts, and even hold a tarantula, if they want.

Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo is fittingly going all out for the week, with hands-on activities like posters stationed around the zoo where guests can write a “thank you” note to the more than 130 animal care staff that take care of the zoo’s more than 4,000 animals. Families can stop by the Be a Zookeeper Zone to explore the science of being a zookeeper and the work they do caring for animals. Throughout the summer, Denver Zoo is celebrating Wildlife Champions, including their zookeepers and curators. The recently installed Village of Wildlife Way is a great spot for curious kids to become wildlife champions by learning about the everyday conservation actions they can take and the impact they have on animals. 2300 Steele St., Denver.

Butterfly Pavilion

Kick off National Zookeeper Week by sending kiddos to Science of Superheroes summer day camp July 16-20, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., where kids will focus on super strength, venom, and other abilities that make invertebrate heroes and villains incredible. End the week by attending the annual Bug Appetit Family Picnic on July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Participants will learn about bug eating, why it’s important for Colorado, and will try out some real insect snacks. Fun family games and hot dogs will be provided. Throughout the week, the touch experiences at the Pavilion will be open—hold Rosie the tarantula, pet starfish and crabs, and dig for worms. 6252 W. 104 Ave., Westminster.

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Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium is the place to be for hands-on animal experiences for the whole family with a wide array of sea life to discover, and even the chance to see real life mermaids. To celebrate Zookeeper Week on a sharp note, check out their activities for Shark Week on Saturday and Sunday, with a “Shark Bytes” scavenger hunt, shark arts and crafts, and even a shark meet and greet. Kids can interact with white spotted bamboo sharks at the touch tanks and witness a live shark feeding on July 21 and 22 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 700 Water St., Denver.

Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

This center, just short of two hours from Denver, will host their Kids Tour on Sunday, July 22 at 4 p.m. Kids ages six to 11 will be led around the center by an experienced staff member who will teach the kids more about the wolves and how they live, with hands-on learning and fun. $10, reservations required. 4729 Twin Rocks Rd., Divide.

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