The Zoology Department has its roots in the 1859 gold rush. Edwin Carter came to Colorado to find his fortune, but instead followed his true passion and collected the birds and mammals of the Rocky Mountain region. In his log cabin in Breckinridge, he amassed one of the most complete assemblages of Colorado fauna from that time. This collection of bird eggs, study skins, and bird and mammal taxidermy mounts was not only the original foundation of the Museum’s zoological collections but was the catalyst for the formation of the Museum itself in 1900. From 1911 onward, successive curators continued to expand the Museum's collections and exhibits through local and far-flung expeditions. In the last 20 years, Zoology’s staffing level has increased and collections now stand at well over 1.27 million. You can read more about the history of the department here (Stephenson, et al. 2013).
The Zoology Departments engages with the public by presenting scientific findings in an exciting and accessible format, including exhibit content support, Museum programming, lectures, workshops, media opportunities, mentoring students and interns, and opening up the zoology collections to the public. They also maintain important collaborations and partnerships with regional institutions, such as the Denver Zoo, The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Butterfly Pavilion, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, USFWS, and colleagues at museums and universities.
Zoology Department staff are members of various professional scientific organizations, including the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature, American Society of Mammalogy, American Arachnological Society, American Ornithological Society, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Entomological Society of America, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, Society for the Study of Evolution, and many others. Many Zoology staff serve or have served in leadership or board member roles in these organizations, and also advise and serve on committees of graduate students from various universities and serve as editors or reviewers for scientific journals.