Zoology Collections

Documenting and preserving the planet’s biodiversity

The Zoology Collections consist of nine collections with approximately 1.27 million specimens (including backlog).  Specimen records are currently available online through Arctos or Symbiota, with data published to different portals including GBIF, SCAN, iDigBio, GGBN, BISON, Map of LifeVertNet, SEINet, InvertEBase, GLoBI and GenBank.

The largest collections include entomology with ~1.1 million specimens and taxonomic strengths in Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) and several families of Coleoptera (beetles), including a globally significant collection of scarab beetles. The arachnology collection (~56,300 vials) is one of the largest in the country and includes specimens from 10 orders. The ornithology collection (~55,000 specimens) is one of the largest in the American West with holotypes, paratypes, extinct taxa, and many species of conservation importance. The marine invertebrate collection (~43,700 lots) covers a worldwide range, with particular strengths in material from the Caribbean, western Mexico, and the Pacific. The mammal collection (~21,000 specimens), which has more than doubled in size over the last decade, covers seven continents, with a particularly strong Colorado focus. Both vertebrate collections span the last 150 years, with a focus on the Rocky Mountain region (>75%) and associated frozen tissues and parasites. The four smaller collections include the egg and nest collection (~7,300 specimens), the botany collection (~4,500 specimens) representing 240 families, the amphibian and reptile collection (~1,000 specimens), and the parasite collection (~7,500 lots), which grows in parallel with the bird and mammal collections.

History of the Collections

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).

Why We Store Thousands of Dead Animals in the Freezer

A museum in Denver, Colorado, has invited donations of animals killed in vehicle collisions and other encounters with modern life. By preserving and studying the specimens, researchers are hoping for a better understanding of how well wild animals are coping with their changing habitats.


Andrew Doll, MS

Zoology Collections Manager

Genevieve Anderegg, MS

Assistant Collections Manager of Invertebrate Zoology

Frank-Thorsten Krell, PhD

Senior Curator of Entomology

Garth M. Spellman, PhD

Associate Curator of Ornithology

Paula E. Cushing, PhD

Senior Curator of Invertebrate Zoology

John R. Demboski, PhD

John Demboski, Vice President of Science

Andrea (Andie) Carrillo

Zoology Preparator

Courtney J. Scheskie, MA

Business Support Specialist III

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