Author Archives: Jay

Baby Zebra Born

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce our new baby zebra! Born June 2, the striped gal has been bonding with mom, Ziva.

Yet to be named, she weighs roughly 74 pounds and is the second Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra ever born at Utah’s Hogle Zoo (there were Grevy’s Zebra born at the Zoo in the ’80s).
The first Hartmann’s for Hogle Zoo was last year when baby Poppy burst on the scene, born to mom Zoey. Ziggy, father to both babies is doing well and remains mostly unconcerned with what’s happening 😉

Baby is doing great, nursing regularly, working on her kicks and mama is proving to be a wonderful first-time mom.

Rhino Fly Mask

A Village of Animal-Lovers Help a Rhino in Need

Utah’s Hogle Zoo, along with community partners, create custom fly-mask for rhino, Princess. 
SALT LAKE CITY – Each spring, like clock-work, the pollen picks up, the flies come out and white rhino, Princess, gets red, swollen, irritated eyes.

She’s always had seasonal allergies and every spring it would just flare up,” said zookeeper Melissa Farr. “With the pollen and dust and flies, our routine to keep her comfortable was to flush her eyes and treat her with ointment.” But it was only mildly effective and keepers wondered what they could do to prevent it.

A lot of us grew up around horses and they’ll wear fly masks for the very same reason,” Farr said. “So we began to wonder how to get a fly mask in Princess-size.”

The Zoo scratched its head trying to figure out where to begin, this type of rhino mask has only been tackled once before in Florida. “We called local business A.A. Callister and just asked if they know anyone who makes fly masks, locally,” Farr said. “Lucky for us, they were intrigued enough about the proposition that rather than tell us ‘no, sorry’ they said – ‘well let us think about that!”

A.A. Callister called some of their vendors and found Horseware Ireland – a company specializing in horse products, based out of Dundalk, Ireland.”We reached out to several companies but many of them were not sure how they could help,” said Bridgette Layne with A.A. Callister. “Our sales rep put us in touch with Horseware Ireland and they went above and beyond in making this happen.”

Many, many phone calls and emails later, Team Princess got to work. Layne noted Horseware Ireland worked with their supplier in China for the pattern, making Princess’ fly mask an international work of art.

Hogle Zoo animal care team made numerous measurements for Horseware Ireland. “When we got the first mask we were so excited – and it was grey and pink! We didn’t even ask but they gave her some pink!”

But getting the mask delivered was just the beginning. 39 year-old Princess, a senior citizen rhino, still had a long road ahead of learning what the fly mask was and why her keepers wanted to put this thing over her face. She needed to learn she could still see and eat while wearing it and her brother, 41 year-old George, also had to learn what this new grey and pink item was.Keepers began a process called ‘desensitization’ – getting the animal to be less-sensitive to new and different stimuli.

“It took almost a year getting her trained,” Farr said. “We’d wear her mask ourselves, we’d spend time putting it near George and Princess, we’d practice fastening straps under her chin – it was baby steps. We worked with her every morning.”

Once Princess was used to wearing the mask, they put her outside in the small holding yard to let her get used to shadows and get her footing.

Princess has been comfortable wearing the fly mask and is doing great and George doesn’t seem bothered by his sister’s new accessory.The partnership between Utah’s Hogle Zoo, A.A. Callister and Horseware Ireland has brought immeasurable relief to Princess, peace of mind for her keepers and an interesting talking feature during a visit to the rhino yard.

“There are a lot of people who have never seen a horse fly mask or worry that Princess can’t see at all or that she’s blindfolded,” said keeper Lauren LeCoque. “It’s been fun to show them what her view is like – we tell them it’s like she’s wearing sunglasses.” The Zoo’s education team fashioned some sunglasses out of the same mesh so guests can get a glimpse of what it’s like wearing the mask.

And so far, so good! “Her eyes look great. The pollen has been high, the flies are out and we haven’t seen any flare-ups,” Farr said. “We’re just thrilled! We’re so thankful to both A.A. Callister and Horseware Ireland – Princess thanks you too!”

Cuteness Overload

SALT LAKE CITY (May, 2) – 

After close to a decade,Utah’s Hogle Zoo welcomes back the much-missed Red Panda.

Salt Lake County Mayor, Ben McAdams, joins the festivities Wednesday, May 2, 11:30a as the Zoo cuts the ribbon on the Janet Quinney Lawson Red Panda Exhibit.

McAdams will be joined by Patrick Leary, Chief of Staff for Mayor Biskupski; Vicki Bourns, Director of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums and Representative Brian King.

It has been close to a decade since Zoo guests have ooohed and ahhed over this cuddly-looking creature. Red Pandas were a long-time guest favorite until Hogle Zoo had to make room for Rocky Shores. Now, eight years later, the Zoo welcomes a four year-old male and a seven year-old female from Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, AZ.

The two red pandas have been acclimating to their new exhibit which features close to 360-degree viewing; two areas for nose-to-nose encounters and views from the upper dining deck in Asian Highlands. Their new home is also equipped with cooling spots and a recirculated water feature.

 

Red Pandas are an endangered species native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. Often confused with a raccoon or fox, the Red Panda is mainly active at dawn and dusk and mostly eats bamboo. Thick, red fur covers their entire body, including the soles of their feet, to help conserve body heat.

Utah’s Hogle Zoo works with Red Panda Network to help save this species in the wild. The Zoo and Red Panda Network help train and equip Forest Guardians, protecting native habitats from logging and deforestation. (www.redpandanetwork.org)

 

10,000 Tortoises Rescued

Turtle Survival Alliance, Utah’s Hogle Zoo and other AZA-Accredited Zoos and Aquariums Launched Rescue Mission for Nearly 10,000 Radiated Tortoises in Madagascar 

On Tuesday, April 10, more than 10,000 critically endangered radiated tortoises were discovered by police in Toliara, Madagascar, in a private residence. The floors of virtually every room in the house were covered with tortoises that had no access to food or water. Hundreds have since died from dehydration and illness.

Saving the Radiated Tortoise from extinction is one of Hogle Zoo’s most important animal programs. The Zoo has had a long-time relationship with both the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) and the people of Madagascar, and has jumped in to help in the emergency rescue effort. The Zoo sent a veterinary technician to administer healthcare to the rescued animals as well as offer husbandry support in the way of building more holding pens and shade structures for the overflow of tortoises. Hogle Zoo and TSA are joined by fellow AZA institutions that have also dispatched medical supplies and animal experts to help with the crisis.

“I don’t think the word ‘overwhelming’ comes close to describing what the Turtle Survival Alliance is dealing with here,” said Rick Hudson, President of the TSA. “We were already caring for 8,000 tortoises in Madagascar, now that number has more than doubled overnight.” Hogle Zoo and the TSA built a conservation center that cares for and rehabilitates confiscated animals in 2015.

 

It is not known how long the tortoises have been in the house, some arrests have been made, the local police and their partners continue their investigation. It is believed the tortoises were collected for the illegal pet trade, possibly for shipment to Asia. The tortoises’ highly-domed shell features a brilliant star pattern making them highly prized. It is estimated that Radiated Tortoise populations in the wild have declined by more than 80 percent in the last 30 years, a rate that will render them extinct in the wild in less than two decades.

 

Utah’s Hogle Zoo has done extensive work in Madagascar since 2010, building the very triage centers that allow these critical confiscation operations to happen. “We’re so proud of the work we’re doing in Madagascar,” said Christina Castellano, Vice President, Hogle Zoo, and conservation biologist with over 20 years of experience in Madagascar. “We have built these triage centers but the number or tortoises from this confiscation is so overwhelming that we have to invest more in building new housing, hiring additional staff and security guards and getting food for these animals. We really have to ramp up what we’re doing to give them the care they need to survive.”

Castellano along with a Hogle Zoo reptile keeper will be among the next wave of support sent to the region. Reptile experts will be training Madagascan keepers in proper husbandry methods for tortoises, including how to monitor their health, food intake and growth.

 

It’s Red Panda Time

Hogle Zoo Announces Exciting News!

SALT LAKE CITY (Feb. 7) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is excited to announce the addition of not one, but two red pandas making their way to Salt Lake City this spring! The Janet Q. Lawson Red Panda exhibit is named after long-time Zoo board member and generous donor to the Zoo. The 3 1/2 year-old male and the seven year-old female will make Hogle Zoo their permanent home once the exhibit opens. Currently at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, AZ, the two are already familiar with each other and get along great. Everyone wants to know: Will there be babies? Yes – it’s hopeful, eventually.

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is partnering with the Red Panda Network – hard at work saving this beautiful species in its native habitat. Numbers of red pandas in the wild are estimated to be fewer than 25,000 due, primarily, to loss of habitat and the illegal pet trade. Learn more about Red Pandas.

The Zoo is proud to bring back this photogenic species after a 10 year hiatus and eager to connect Utah to their friends in the far reaches of the Himalayas.

Facts about Red Pandas:

  • -Red Pandas are sometimes called “Firefox” or “lesser pandas”
  • -Red Pandas live in the mountainous areas of Nepal and southwestern China.
  • -Red Panda diet consists mostly of bamboo.
  • -Red Panda gestation is roughly 4 1/2 months and litters are typically two cubs.
  • -Red Pandas have thick fur over their entire body, even the soles of their feet to conserve body heat.

Every time you visit the Zoo, you are helping animals in the wild. 

Meet Polar Bears Nora and Hope!

October 9, 2017 (SALT LAKE CITY) – After much anticipation, Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce two year-old polar bears, Nora and Hope.
The two female bears arrived last month and have been spending time getting acquainted with their keepers, their new home and each other and now they’re ready to meet the community!

“Introductions have gone better than we could have expected,” said Rocky Shores keeper Joanne Randinitis. “We were concerned that Nora wouldn’t know how to react to another bear. But she’s done great.”

Nora was born at Columbus Zoo Nov. 6, 2015. Her mother began leaving her unattended in the den for prolonged periods of time. Keepers made the difficult decision to hand-rear the tiny cub.

She was sent to Oregon Zoo last September, in the hopes she might be mentored by their senior bear. “For a young bear that was hand-raised, the companionship of another bear is so important for developing social skills,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees Oregon Zoo’s marine life area. Sadly, Oregon Zoo lost their senior bear shortly after Nora arrived. Again, Nora was without bear companionship.

About seven weeks after Nora was born, she was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease which happens because of an imbalance of calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients. Columbus Zoo staff immediately started supplementing her diet with calcium and Vitamin D. She responded well. However, metabolic bone disease may contribute to skeletal problems later in life. Nora currently has some joint disorders that are likely to develop into arthritis and she may appear to limp or ‘waddle.’ Veterinarians at Hogle Zoo have been in regular communication with both Columbus and Oregon Zoos to ensure that Nora receives the most effective treatment possible which will include lots of aqua therapy!


Nora enjoying her ‘test’ visitors while looking through the window at the seals and sea lions.

Hope, named after Point Hope, Alaska, as well as a nod to the optimism for the future of the endangered species, was born at Toledo Zoo on December 3, 2015. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended Hope’s transfer. The SSP prioritizes putting young animals together when they are mature enough to leave their mothers. In the wild, young bears separate from their mothers around age two and may band together to survive the harsh conditions in the Arctic.

The hope is that Hope will be a great mentor bear for Nora. They’re only one month apart in age and have the same youthful energy. And so far, it’s going smoothly.

Hope is almost 180 pounds heavier than Nora but that did not cause any problems during their first few encounters. Zoo animal care staff has been hard at work getting the bears comfortable in their new homes and with each other and they’ve both done a terrific job.

“Both bears are eating a lot and playing with their toys,” Randinitis said. “They’re both resting on opposite ends of the exhibit. They both initiate approaching each other and retreating so neither one is overpowering the other. It’s just been great.”

The polar bear is among Hogle Zoo’s Big 6 Conservation Species – six species receiving the focus of the Zoo’s conservation efforts. “As one of our signature programs we concentrate our financial and staffing resources to try to save this particular species,” said Liz Larsen. “Our leadership in the zoo community toward conservation has helped secure us as a flagship institution for such a high profile species as polar bears.”

Hogle Zoo has a long history of caring for polar bears – offering a home to the species from 1957 – 2003, during which time Hogle Zoo produced 10 offspring. The opening of Rocky Shores, in 2012, saw the much anticipated return of the polar bear after a nine year absence. Designed to be a long-term breeding and conservation facility Hogle Zoo hopes to contribute to the study and science of polar bears for years to come.

Hogle Zoo is leading the way with its work with Polar Bears International as an Arctic Ambassador Center (AAC); a collection of zoos, museums and aquariums that educate the public about climate change and provide leadership for carbon-emission reductions in our communities. Global warming is melting the Arctic sea ice polar bears call home, and with it, access to the food and shelter necessary for the species’ survival.


Hope exploring her new home.

Zoo Announces new President

Salt Lake City, UT (September, 2017) –
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to announce Steve Burns as the new President/CEO, replacing Craig Dinsmore who is retiring after 20 years.

Burns is currently the Executive Director of Zoo Boise in Idaho and Executive Director of the Friends of Zoo Boise, where he served for 20 years. He is known through the AZA community for his commitment to and passion for conservation having served as Chair of the AZA Field Conservation Committee and as member and Chair of the national Board of Directors for AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums).

“I’ve been watching Hogle Zoo for 20 years,” Burns said after the Zoo’s Board of Directors made the announcement. “I’ve known Craig, I’ve visited the Zoo and I’ve been impressed. It’s a beautiful Zoo and there’s amazing support from the community. The Zoo wants to move in the direction of going beyond the gates and doing conservation of animals in the wild. When you put those three factors together it made the choice easy.”

During Burns tenure at Zoo Boise he led three successful capital campaigns, built or remodeled 85% of the zoo’s exhibits, increased attendance 90% over 20 years and promoted a culture of conservation.

“A change in leadership brings great opportunities for an organization’s growth and mission,” said the Zoo’s current CEO, Craig Dinsmore. “I have every confidence that Steve will be an outstanding President/CEO and that Hogle Zoo will continue to excel with his leadership.”

Burns will move his family to Salt Lake City, and is slated to start in early December. “I love the mountains. If I had a choice between the beach or mountains I’d pick the mountains every time. That Salt Lake has such an abundance of those makes it all the more special.”

Once settled, Burns is eager to continue expanding Hogle Zoo’s mission in creating a better place for wildlife. “I think zoos continue to evolve,” he said. “The natural world is not in good shape and the natural world needs zoos to move in the direction that every time someone visits they’re not only having a good time with their family, they’re helping animals in the wild.”

Pallas’ Cat Kittens Born

Meet not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE Pallas cat kittens – the original grumpy cats!

Mama Hal (pronounced, Ha-RU) gave birth March 28 to four boys and one girl and she’s been an excellent mom.

These “cute, angry balls of fluff,” as their keepers call them, keep mom on her toes.

Meet: Diablo, Mushu, Pabu, Tater and their sister, Ting.

They are super playful – until they tip over and nap – and can be seen in Asian Highlands.

The dad is not involved in rearing the babies in this species so, Petenka is still in his regular home across the pathway from the tiger.

Learn more about Pallas’ Cats here.

Retirement Announced

Salt Lake City, UT (July 11, 2017) –
After 20 years at the helm of Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Craig Dinsmore, President and CEO has announced plans to retire in early October, 2017.
Dinsmore’s tenure at Hogle Zoo is marked by $72 million worth of upgrades including new exhibits – Elephant Encounter, Asian Highlands, Rocky Shores and, in 2014, African Savanna as well as a new animal hospital.
The Zoo has grown from 750,000 visitors annually during Dinsmore’s first year to over 1.1 million visitors today, and is Salt Lake City’s most-visited, paid, attraction.
“I look back on my 20 years as Director of Utah’s Hogle Zoo with both pride and gratitude,” Dinsmore said. “Our progress has been a product of a great team united in the pursuit of excellence, and a supportive community which has generously supported our growth and improvements. Whether that support came at our gate through our 1.1 million+ annual guests; public tax support through bonds and the Zoo, Arts, and Parks (ZAP) tax; or our thousands of members and donors; the result has been a resounding message: that having a high-quality zoo is important to the vitality of a community.”

Dinsmore’s contribution to the zoo community has stretched beyond the Zoo’s 42 acres. Nationally, he served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and on the AZA Accreditation Commission which promotes the highest standards for all AZA member institutions.
“All modern Zoos have an important role to play for the future of wildlife and nature, both locally and worldwide,” Dinsmore said. “Endangered species are vanishing at an alarming rate. People, especially children, are engrossed in their handheld technologies, becoming disconnected from nature. Zoos provide that link to nature, wildlife and wild places, and can be a catalyst for action to save species.”

Dinsmore, 66, came to Hogle Zoo in 1997 after serving in leadership positions at both Topeka Zoo and Audubon Zoo before making his way out west. The Colorado native is looking forward to new life adventures after his 42-year career in zoos.

“When I first met Craig some 20 years ago, I became most impressed with his vision of what he believed Hogle Zoo could become,” said James E. Hogle, Jr., Chair Emeritus. “For the years that followed, Craig never wavered from bringing his wonderful vision. Today’s highly regarded Zoo reflects much of what he hoped and planned. We will all greatly miss Craig, his dedicated leadership, wisdom, wit, and especially for me, his friendship.”
Paul Dougan, Hogle Zoo Board Chair adds, “On a personal and professional level, Craig will be sorely missed but he leaves us in a very stable and enviable position,” he said. “Our financial health is sound, operations run with flawless precision and our second Master Plan, which will be our road map through 2030, is nearly complete.”
“Over my career in business and service with other nonprofits, I have never worked with a better manager than Craig,” Dougan said. “He has a unique combination of technical and practical knowledge of the Zoo world and the people skills to both manage and develop a wonderful staff, and to work seamlessly with our Board and officers.”

Hogle Zoo has begun the search for a new President and CEO and expects that process to be complete by the time Dinsmore retires in October.
In announcing his retirement to staff, Dinsmore said “As you go forward, never forget how important each of you is to the Zoo’s success and remember also that you work you do makes a difference: for a guest, for our animals and for each other.”
Dinsmore is working with the Board and senior staff is setting the stage for a smooth transition of leadership. “We will all be working to guarantee that the success of the past years continues long into the future.”

New Otter on Exhibit

Meet Howard, the Zoo’s newest North American River Otter.  Howard was born March 11, 2016 at the NEW Zoo and was brought to Hogle Zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) in 2017.  He can now be seen on exhibit with one or the other of our female otters, as the two females do not get along with each other.  It may be a few years, but it is hoped that at some point he and Nessie (our younger female), will be able to produce offspring.

Learn more about our River Otters.