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Oldest Giraffe Passes

Utah’s Hogle Zoo Says Goodbye to Oldest Giraffe, Daphne

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is mourning the passing of Daphne, the oldest giraffe in North America. At 31 years old, Daphne far surpassed her fellow giraffes – a testament to the loving care she received. The average lifespan for giraffes is 15 years.

Animal care staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Daphne based on her decline in strength, low energy and a lesser response to pain medications.

“We found her lying down which Daphne hasn’t done for a long time” said Dr. Erika Crook, Associate Veterinarian. “We’d been monitoring her for a few months and as is often the case with animals, they let you know when it’s time.”

Keepers noticed a decline in Daphne’s comfort and attitude. “She wasn’t as perky as usual and she was more sedentary,” said Lisa Ellison, giraffe keeper.

“She was having aches and pains like a great grandmother would,” said Dr. Crook. “She needed medication to make her comfortable.”

It began taking keepers a longer time to convince Daphne to take the medications, “they worked hard and used every trick up their sleeves,” Dr. Crook said.

Animal care staff took their cues from Daphne on how to proceed day to day. Her advanced age, and related degenerative musculoskeletal issues finally caught up with her. She also exhibited a considerable decline in appetite.

“You know, she went on her own terms,” said giraffe keeper Lisa Ellison. “She had a nice week last week – the weather was warm, she was moving well and we had a good last week with her. It was just her time and she let us know that.”

Daphne came to Hogle Zoo in 1985 and was a wonderful mother to many calves and a caring ‘auntie’ over the years, including, most recently, to baby Willow.

“She was a very ‘judgy’ giraffe,” Ellison joked. “She just had this look that looked like she was judging you. She was also very observant – she learned by watching the other giraffes.”

Hogle Zoo currently has three female giraffes, including four month-old Willow, and one adult male. The Zoo continues to work in conjunction with AZA, SSP (Species Survival Plan) and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation – the recipient organization of the Zoo’s animal encounter proceeds.

Daphne will continue to serve as an ambassador to her marvelous yet threatened species as Hogle Zoo will make contributions to various museums, including the Museum of Osteology.


Creekside Play Area Opens

More For Kids to do at the Zoo!

SALT LAKE CITY (May, 12) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo gets set to turn the page on a new chapter as it cuts the ribbon on Creekside, an interactive play area for the kids!

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Karen Hale, Associate Chief Administrative Officer of Mayor McAdams office, join the festivities Thursday, May 12, 9:30 a.m. as the Zoo cuts the ribbon and the first wave of children play, learn and explore.

PLAY: Creekside (adjacent to Lighthouse Point splash zone) offers brand new play equipment including tree house elements, slides, spider web netting, swinging vines and rickety bridges.

LEARN: Creekside features the Wyatt Fricks Discovery Theater, named for a young boy who passed away at an early age. His love for the Zoo lives on as children get up close with small animals during daily animal encounters. All programming is proudly sponsored by Mountain America Credit Union.

EXPLORE: Creekside brings guests closer to Emigration Creek with a boardwalk that offers access never offered before. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the shady pathway while looking for native wildlife along the embankment.

The Discovery Amphitheater, pathways and restrooms are all ADA accessible and the play area has features that allow wheelchair access. The play area also features a sensory wall for children on the autism spectrum.


Zoo Mourns the Loss of Rocky, the Sea Lion

With heavy hearts, Hogle Zoo announces the passing of popular California sea lion, Rocky, on Wednesday, April 27.

A necropsy (animal autopsy) showed swollen lymph nodes throughout his body, suggesting an infection. A post-necropsy MRI of Rocky’s brain also revealed evidence of past strokes, possibly associated with trauma he endured before arriving at Hogle Zoo.

Rocky’s success story was a favorite among Zoo guests. Rescue crews found Rocky in Oakland, California. They discovered a pellet lodged in his head and gas bubbles in his brain. Though crews removed the pellet, the bubbles remained. Rocky was only the second sea lion to be diagnosed with the very rare condition. The last animal diagnosed with gas bubbles was released into the wild only to wash up on shore three weeks later. Hogle Zoo was eager to partner with Marine Mammal Center to offer Rocky a second chance at a great life.  “Every step of the way Rocky has overcome the odds,” Rocky Shores keeper, Michelle Hanenberg said. “He was the sole surviving sea lion with this condition and we never knew how long we would get with him.”

“This is one of the challenges with rehabilitated animals,” said Christina Castellano, Assistant Director, Programs. “We love being able to offer them a good home and we make sure they have everything they need, but you never know what health issues you’ll encounter.”

Rocky passed away during a medical procedure. He went into several dive reflexes (where the animal stops breathing as though it is diving into water) while immobilized and his heart finally stopped. Rescue efforts were made, including CPR and medications given to the heart, but they were unsuccessful.

“It’s certainly possible that due to Rocky’s condition he didn’t have everything he needed mentally and physically to fight off infection like a normal sea lion,” said Dr. Nancy Carpenter, senior veterinarian.

Rocky’s special condition made him a crowd favorite. “He had a special connection with people,” said keeper Hanenberg. “Things did not come easy to Rocky – he had to work twice as hard to do what was being asked of him. He had to give 110% every time.”

He was also patient and forgiving, making him the perfect choice to work with new trainers. “He taught us so much,” she said. “He challenged us to look at things differently. What works for other sea lions did not work for Rocky so we had to rethink our approach.”

The keeper relationship to Rocky was also part physical therapist. “So much of our training with Rocky was to help him develop muscles to swim faster and other things developmentally to help him on a daily basis.”

“Rocky was the most earnest animal,” she said. “He was always willing to try new things and he was so eager to do anything asked of him. Even when we were frustrated, Rocky was all in – he was right there trying hard; he would try and try. He never gave up.”

“He was really inspiring in that way.”

Hogle Zoo still has one male sea lion, Maverick, who swims with three harbor seals. The Zoo will now determine what is best for Maverick and the future of sea lions at Rocky Shores.

Special Events Assistant

Current Job Opening Details

For general information about employment opportunities at Hogle Zoo, please call Human Resources at  (801) 584-4510.

Department: MARKETING

Status: Full-time with benefits

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is looking for an enthusiastic professional to assist in the planning and execution of all zoo public events. Under the general supervision of the Special Events Supervisor and the Marketing Director, the Special Events Assistant will play a critical role in zoo events, including member events, fund-raising events and separate-ticketed events which drive attendance, revenue and focus on enhancing the importance of conservation and the visitor experience.  The ideal candidate must promote a positive and professional image of Utah’s Hogle Zoo in public and in all communication of zoo events.

Duties  and Responsibilities include:

  • -Under the direction of the Special Events Supervisor – plans, coordinates and executes on-site special events, including:
    1. -Timely and accurate communication of special events activities with appropriate zoo -departments, staff, outside vendors, media, sponsors, VIPs, and volunteers.
    2. -Scheduling personnel and volunteers to meet event staffing requirements.
    3. -Separate ticketed events including but not limited to: Zoo Brew, ZooLights, and Member’s only Tea Party.
    4. -Assisting with planning, coordination and execution of departmental zoo events.
  • -Evaluates existing events and explores the creation of new event opportunities.
  • -Assists with Hogle Zoo’s largest fund-raising event, Zoo Rendezvous, as assigned.
  • -Other duties as assigned by the special events supervisor and marketing director.
  • -Late evenings, weekends, and holiday shifts required throughout the summer and during the month of December.

Qualifications, Skills and Abilities

  • -Minimum one year experience in special events planning and implementation.  Experience in a marketing, development, public relations or hospitality capacity is always a plus.
  • -Possess a proven track record of handling tight deadlines, working under pressure, working unsupervised, and juggling multiple tasks.
  • -Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills.
  • -Strong writing ability.
  • -Ability to motivate others.
  • -Strong computer literacy.
  • -Exhibit high energy, enthusiasm, and drive to successfully complete tasks.
  • -Physically able to lift and move things weighing up to 50 lbs.
  • -The ability to work events with alcohol present. Must be 21+.

To Apply:

Anyone interested should  e-mail a cover letter and resume to Andy Godwin, by April 20, 2016.  Utah’s Hogle Zoo is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Contact Human Resources:

Anna Fredrickson,  (801) 584-4510





Lion Cubs at the Zoo

For the first time in 27 years and only the third time in the Zoo’s 85 year history!

The 2014 opening of African Savanna saw the arrival of four lions to Hogle Zoo – brothers, Baron and Vulcan; and sisters, Nobu and Sela.

Once the girls were big enough, they were carefully introduced to the males and they got along great!

Fast forward a few months and we’re happy to announce three cubs born to Nobu and Baron on February 24.

“There is always some anxiety because you’ll never know what kind of mom they’ll be,” said Valerie Schubert, primary lion keeper. “But Nobu is a wonderful first-time mother; she is extremely affectionate and protective of her cubs.”

After the typical 110-day gestation, Nobu went into labor without much warning, and delivered all three cubs within six hours, “which is pretty quick,” said Schubert.

LionCubs2Each little cub weighed roughly two pounds at birth. “She was a great mom as soon as they arrived,” Schubert said. “She immediately started cleaning them and they started nursing right away.”

“After a 10 year absence, it’s great to have African lions back in the Zoo and doing so well in their new home at ‘African Savanna,'” said Zoo Executive Director, Craig Dinsmore. “Now to have our first cubs born here in over twenty years is just wonderful and with lions in Africa facing greater and greater peril, this birth is important.”

For now, the cubs are sticking close to mom and they’ll be bonding for the next several weeks.

The keepers are also working on the nuances of introducing ‘auntie’ Sela to the cubs. Once they’re all together, they’ll need to introduce them to the boys – Baron, their father, and ‘uncle’ Vulcan.

This process takes several weeks of careful observation and attention by keepers and animal care staff. Eventually, guests will be able to visit the full pride later this spring.

Learn more about our lions here.


Baby Titi Monkey Born

January 10, 2016 we were pleased to see that our female Bolivian Gray Titi Monkey gave birth to a healthy infant early that morning.  The mother, Trinidad (14 years) and father, Jack Sparrow (7 years), are the proud parents of this little baby.  This is their third baby that they have had together.  Titi monkeys are very family oriented.  Not only are the parents being excellent caregivers, but the baby’s older brother, Toro (2 years) is helping as well.  The keepers have been really pleased with how the baby is doing.  The baby boy is thriving; growing extremely fast and is already very curious about his environment.  When the baby is three months old he will start to explore the exhibit on his, and should be independent by four months.


Learn more about our Bolivian Gray Titi Monkeys.


New Baby Giraffe Born

Look What The Stork Dropped In!

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce a 6-foot bundle of leggy joy: Our new baby giraffe, Willow!

GiraffeMeet Willow, our newest family member.

The young female hit the ground – literally – Wednesday, Jan. 13, 12:23pm. Giraffes face up to a 4-foot fall when they’re born! The little pile of limbs was immediately cleaned up by mama, 13 year-old Pogo, and was standing up nursing within the hour.

Willow, the keepers estimate, is six feet tall and weighs roughly 125 pounds.

Willow“We are very excited to have a baby giraffe; she is absolutely precious,” said Holly Peterson, giraffe keeper. “Her mom is doing such a great job with her – she’s protective and attentive. And Riley is also curious about the little one; he’ll stick his head over from the neighboring stall to sniff her.”

Father, 12 year old Riley, returned to Hogle Zoo after a brief stay at Oregon Zoo while construction of the new African Savanna was completed.

Giraffes have been an important part of Hogle Zoo since 1969, and the Zoo is proud of the 17 successful giraffe births over that time period.

“I believe we have the 2nd oldest giraffe, ‘auntie’ Daphne, and the youngest giraffe, Willow, in the country,” Peterson said. “AnWillowPogod our other females, the aunties, are doing great with Willow. They seek her out to sniff and lick her – it’s awesome.”

Mom and baby are doing great. They’ve been spending the last week bonding. They will not be able to greet the public, however, until the weather warms up a bit.

Mom, Pogo, and baby Willow


When you Snooz, do you dream of animals? If so, come dream at the zoo! This program allows you spend time at the zoo after hours, take a private zoo tour, led by one of our Eco-Explorers, enjoy a snack, meet our animal ambassadors, and so much more!

This interactive program is designed for any school, scout, youth organization, or family group. Campers sleep in a heated/air conditioned building. A minimum of 15 participants is required (smaller groups may register but a minimum fee will be charged). The fee covers admission, the program, staff, night security, evening snack and breakfast.

  • 6:00 PM — 9:00 AM
  • Ages 5 and up
  • $55 per person (minimum group of 15 required)
  • One adult required for every five youths.
  • Limited dates, call for availability
  • A four-week advance reservation is required.

Contact our Eco-Explorer Team Lead, at or (801) 584-1788 to book your ZooSnooz.


Chinese Goral

We received our two male Chinese goral from the Lee Richardson zoo (Kansas) to join the four male markhor in the large rugged exhibits south of Asian Highlands. This is the first time this species has been exhibited at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.


Hogle Zoo Receives Quarter Century Honor

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (Jan. 6, 2016) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is proud to announce recognition for maintaining continuous accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for 25 years or more.

AZA, the primary accrediting body for top zoos and aquariums in the United States since 1974, recently announced recipients for the Association’s Quarter Century Award.

Utah’s Hogle Zoo was among the inaugural group of 119 awardees and sits in even more elite company – boasting continuous accreditation for 36 years, (receiving its first accreditation in 1979).

“We are honored to be recognized for more than a quarter century of professional accreditation,” said Craig Dinsmore, Hogle Zoo executive director. “This is a testament to both the dedication of our amazing employees for their efforts to maintain excellence, and to the continued support of our community to help us be the best zoo we can be. The award reflects our continued commitment to provide the very best care for our resident animals, and to nurturing respect for the natural world.”

This new award acknowledges facilities that have maintained AZA accreditation continuously for 25 years or more, highlighting their commitment to animal care, welfare, conservation, education and more.

“AZA is dedicated to ensuring that the highest standards in the zoological profession are met, and this means that the accreditation process is therefore quite rigorous,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. “The fact that these aquariums and zoos have maintained continuous AZA accreditation for 25 years or more is an extraordinary achievement that deserves to be celebrated.”

To be accredited, AZA-accredited facilities have completed a thorough review to ensure that they meet and will continue to meet rising standards, which include animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association.

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the institution’s operation, including animal care; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and other areas. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied. Any institution that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.