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.

Polar Bear Announcement

SALT LAKE CITY / PORTLAND / TOLEDO (May 24) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is excited to announce the addition of not one, but TWO polar bears making their way to Salt Lake City this fall!

Meet Nora and Hope – two unrelated polar bears, both roughly 1 1/2 years old, who will soon swim together in Rocky Shores. This after the Zoo lost beloved polar bear, Rizzo, to kidney failure, in April. “Saving polar bears is a huge commitment our Zoo is making,” said Liz Larsen, Director of Conservation. “We’re so excited that we have this opportunity to demonstrate our leadership in polar bear conservation with these cubs.”


1 1/2 year-old Nora, from Oregon Zoo

1 1/2 year-old Hope, from Toledo Zoo

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 a senior bear. “For a young bear that was hand-raised, the companionship of another bear is so important for developing socials skills,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the Oregon Zoo’s marine life area. Sadly, Oregon Zoo lost their senior bear shortly after Nora arrived.

“From the time she was a week old, Nora has interacted almost exclusively with people,” Cutting said. “Hope should be a great companion for her. The two bears were born less than a month apart and they have a similar youthful energy.”

Nora has already achieved worldwide fame as a video of her playing in a pool of ice reached nearly 50 million views on Oregon Zoo’s Facebook page.

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 this fall. The SSP prioritizes putting young animals together at the point where 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.
“In her almost two years, Hope has been a great ambassador for her endangered species and become much beloved by the Toledo Zoo community,” said Shayla Moriarty, Toledo Zoo’s director of communication.           

Hope with mom, Crystal

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 will send Rocky Shores keepers to each sister zoo to spend time with both bears before they transfer to Salt Lake. Keepers from Oregon and Toledo will also make the trek to Hogle Zoo to ensure a smooth transition.
VIDEO LINK OF NORA: B-roll, courtesy Oregon Zoo (early parts courtesy of the Columbus Zoo):
VIDEO LINK OF HOPE: B-roll, courtesy Toledo Zoo

Baby Amur Leopard Cubs!

Hogle Zoo is thrilled to contribute to the population of this critically endangered species. Experts estimate only 60 leopards remain in the wild.

Rafferty (one who possess prosperity) and Roman (Strong, powerful) were born February 17. They’ve been bonding with mom and learning the basics of climbing and jumping.

Mom, Zeya, is doing a great job – she’s nurturing and fiercely protective. Both little guys have white toes on their front feet. The Zoo’s adult male Amur leopard, Dimitri, is their father, but will play no role in their rearing, as would be the case in the wild.

Rafferty and Roman clocked in at 12 and 13 pounds in early May and now can be viewed out in their Asian Highlands exhibit with mom!

Learn more about Amur Leopards.

Zoo Mourns Loss of Polar Bear

Salt Lake City, UT (April 9, 2017) – Rizzo, the beloved 19 year-old polar bear that lit up Rocky Shores, has passed away.

After a long week of attentive care, Hogle Zoo veterinary and animal care staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Rizzo. She was in renal failure; a terminal condition in which the kidneys cannot filter waste from the blood.

Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff kept Rizzo comfortable and monitored her on an hour-by-hour basis. Her condition began to decline throughout Saturday afternoon and she struggled to keep food down.

Rizzo passed comfortably and pain free.

“We announced her condition yesterday knowing how much she meant to the community,” said Erica Hansen, Community Relations Manager. “We were hoping we had more time.”

As per regular Zoo procedure, veterinarians will perform a necropsy (animal autopsy) to give her a thorough medical work-up and to contribute further to the science and study of this majestic species.

“How do you thank a bear who has brought so much to the lives of so many?” said Hansen. “Our Facebook page has been flooded with our guests sharing photos and memories. She just brought so much joy – we will miss her everyday.”
Renal failure is not an uncommon condition in older polar bears (median life expectancy of a female polar bear is 24 years).

She came to Hogle Zoo in 2012 with the opening of Rocky Shores; heralding the end of a nine-year polar bear hiatus. Rizzo arrived with a big splash garnering oohs and aahs from an adoring community seeing, for the the first time, what a polar bear looks like from underwater.

Utah’s Hogle Zoo has a long and successful history of caring for polar bears beginning, roughly, before 1957 to 2003 and seeing over 10 successful cub births. The Zoo is committed to the preservation of this magnificent species and has chosen the polar bear as one of its “Big Six” – The Zoo’s six signature conservation species.

Rocky Shores was designed as a long-term breeding and conservation facility. The Zoo will work with AZA (Assoc. of Zoos and Aquariums) and the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to determine how to proceed following Rizzo’s passing.

Baby Zebra Born!

We are pleased to introduce our new baby zebra!  Born April 11, this striped gal as been bonding with mom, Zoey.  Yet to be named, she weighed 87 pounds at birth and is the first Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra ever born at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.  Keepers report the baby is doing great and has one speed: running! Mom and baby will be out in the “Flex Yard,” adjoining the Savanna exhibit for a limited time each day until the baby becomes adjusted to the other animals on the Savanna Exhibit.

Learn more about Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras.

Meet Diego

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce full-grown male sea lion, Diego!

12 year-old Diego arrived in January from Indianapolis Zoo and has been getting acquainted with his keepers, his pool and his fellow pinnipeds (Maverick, the other sea lion, and the three harbor seals).

“We could not be more pleased with Diego’s calm, agreeable disposition, or how well he’s adjusted to his new home,” said Rocky Shores keeper, Michelle Hanenburg.

Diego is an impressive 667 pounds (compared to Maverick at 480 pounds) and came to Hogle Zoo with more than 50 learned ‘behaviors,’ including: a front flipper stand, smiling and doing the boogie!

Conservation Award

SAN DIEGO, CA (Sept., 2016) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is proud to announce recognition for its contribution in rescuing and rehabilitation of gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA), the primary accrediting body for top zoos and aquariums in the United States since 1974, recently announced recipients for the Association’s International Conservation Award during its annual conference.

The award recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA member institutions toward habitat preservation, species restoration and support of biodiversity in the wild.

Along with eight sister institutions, Utah’s Hogle Zoo was recognized for its partnership with G.R.A.C.E – Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center.

GRACE is the world’s only sanctuary for Grauer’s gorillas, a highly endangered gorilla subspecies found in the war-torn Congo. Together with the help of AZA, GRACE’s mission is to rehabilitate gorillas rescued from poaching so they can return to the wild. They also work to educate the Congolese communities to promote understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild gorillas and their habitat.

“What they’re attempting at GRACE is the first of its kind,” said Liz Larsen, Director of Conservation, Hogle Zoo. “We’re taking orphaned gorillas and we are creating surrogate family groups in order to release them back into the wild. Our Zoo institutions are well positioned as conservation organizations with not only professional expertise but we’re able to pool our resources to provide direction and leadership and it’s been quite successful.”

GRACE notes (www.gracegorillas.org) that Zoos play a critical role in staff training. “In 2009, our staff had little or no experience with gorillas and, thanks to this major investment in training, are now among the most experiences gorilla care experts in Africa and arguably the world.” This support is financial as well as sending animal care staff, veterinarians and offering administrative oversight. Hogle Zoo is proud to have its own executive director, Craig Dinsmore, currently serving on the Board of Directors.

Photo credit: GRACE