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Hogle Zoo: Recreation meets education

Rhinoceros are one of the extinct species housed at Utah's Hogle Zoo. (Tanoya Poulsen / The Signpost)
A rhino currently housed at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. (Tanoya Poulsen / The Signpost)

Conservation, education and recreation are the three goals of Utah’s Hogle Zoo located in Salt Lake City. Community events usually fall into one of these three categories.

There has been a zoo in the valley for the past 100 years. The zoo began when a group of kids raised money to buy an elephant named Princess Alice.

They kept her in Liberty Park, but she continually broke out and trampled residents’ yards. The Hogle family then donated the property at the mouth of Emigration Canyon where the 42-acre zoo now sits, and it has grown ever since.

“We try to have a lot of events with conservation messages behind them.” Says Andy Godwin, a special events coordinator at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. “Some of the big events are the Polar Bear Whiteout in February, World Ocean’s Day and Party for the Planet around Earth Day.”

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a non-profit organization that is highly rated in promoting species conservation and animal welfare. Only the top 10 percent of zoos are members of this special organization.

“So many of the animals that we have here at the zoo are endangered species and so close to extinction,” said Erica Hansen, who is the community relations coordinator at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. “The rhinos, the elephants, the orangutans, the gorillas [are endangered], so it’s so important to let people come here and enjoy these beautiful creatures and remind them that they’re in peril.”

The zoo also tries to educate the community. They offer many onsite and offsite programs such as, Zoosnooz, which is a program designed for scouts or other youth group organizations. The program gives kids the chance to spend a night in the zoo and have a guided tour given by a professional.

The zoo also offers daily presentations in the Wildlife Theater Bird Show where patrons can learn about birds from around the world and watch free-flight demonstrations.

A monkey looks out from a hiding place at Utah's Hogle Zoo. (Tanoya Poulsen / The Signpost)
A tamarin looks out from a hiding place at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. (Tanoya Poulsen / The Signpost)

There is also sea lion and seal training where you can learn about the different pinnipeds—fin-footed mammals—housed at the zoo and how they have adapted to marine life.

Suzanne Zgraggen, the education coordinator at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, spoke of the Wild Aware Utah program.

“We offer an outreach program called Wild Aware Utah in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources to teach you how to be safe around Utah’s wild animals,” said Zgraggen.

Zgraggen also spoke of how they focus on teaching members of the community the different ways they can make a difference. “Anything that we can do in Salt Lake that will help an orangutan in Borneo, we are by and large a conservation organization,” Zgraggen said.

The zoo offers a place for families to learn about wildlife conservation. Those who visit can learn how to help animals native to Utah and animals from all over the world. The zoo is open year-round with many activities and programs going on throughout the year.

For more information about their events and for prices, hours of operation and discount coupons, visit the Utah’s Hogle Zoo website.

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