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 ( 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

It’s a baby Burro!

For the past two years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Utah’s Hogle Zoo have partnered to bring wild horses and burros to Hogle Zoo. The animals typically arrive in April and remain at the Zoo through October, greeting guests riding the train.

Hogle Zoo is the temporary home to two wild mustangs, two burros and now this male baby, born Tuesday, Sept. 6. Affectionately referred to as “Burro-ito” by its keepers, the little guy is settling in nicely, adjusting well to animal care staff and getting along great with the other burro and mustangs.  The baby along with the other burros and mustangs can only be viewed along the Zoofari Express train ride.

This partnership has allowed the BLM to showcase a small sampling of the wild horses and burros (donkeys) that are available for adoption or sale within their program.

Any member of the public who is interested in adopting the wild horses or burros after they leave the Zoo in late October, can contact guest services to receive information about adopting the BLM animals, or leave a message on the Utah Wild Horse and Burro Hotline, 801-539-4050 to be contacted about adoption options.

Those not spoken for by the end of September will be available for adoption in early October through the BLM’s wild horse and burro facility located in Delta, Utah.

The BLM protects, manages and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The act declares that wild horses and burros are “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” The BLM and U.S. Forest Service manage herds, in their respective jurisdictions, within areas these animals were found roaming wild in 1971.

The BLM’s goal is to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands.

For more information about the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, visit:

Costa Rica

The span of the Costa Rican territory, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, is only 200 miles. The variety of landscapes and microclimates that can be enjoyed in one day make this country a paradise destination. Costa Rica is known for its beaches, volcanoes and immense biodiversity. Roughly a quarter of its area is made up of protected jungle, rich with wildlife including spider monkeys and quetzal birds.

Program Includes: 

All ground transfers in air-conditioned motorcoach.

  • Superior accommodations throughout as indicated or similar.
  • Professional guide will accompany the group with a minimum of 10 travelers.
  • An escort from Hogle Zoo will accompany the group with minimum 10 travelers on the main program and 10 on the extension.
  • All meals as specified.
  • Bottled water in vehicles.
  • All park entry fees on main program and extension.
  • All applicable hotel and lodge taxes and gratuities for baggage handling.
  • Complimentary baggage tags and passport wallet.

Escorted by: A Hogle Zoo Staff Member

Dates:  November 9-17, 2017

Cost: approximately $5,190 Per Person, Double Occupancy

Departure City: Salt Lake City
(Other Departure Cities Available Upon Request)

For more information call (801) 584-1737.


Days 1 ~ November 5
Salt Lake City/San Jose

Your journey begins as you board your aircraft en route to San Jose. Upon arrival, you will be escorted to your accommodation, the Bougainvillea, where your evening is at leisure. Set among ten acres of lush gardens, the unique and comfortable Hotel Bougainvillea, located at the outskirts of a pleasant residential area in San Jose, provides a quiet hideaway where guests can truly experience the world famous natural beauty of Costa Rica. The grounds of the hotel are spectacular – being surrounded by coffee plantations, citrus orchards and lush gardens provides an enticing setting for walking through the winding trails, tennis, or relaxing by the swimming pool. Each of the 83 rooms has twin double beds, tub or shower, and a separate seating area. The furniture is made of Costa Rican hardwoods and rooms have cable television. In addition, each room has a balcony offering marvelous views of the mountains on one side and the San José skyline on the other. Enjoy a welcome dinner at your hotel this evening.


Day 2 ~ November 6

La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge

After an early morning departure from San Jose, you will travel west through the beautiful scenic roads of Costa Rica until you reach the La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is located on the Pacific coast in the province of Puntarenas, on the Gulf of Nicoya. Your beautifully-situated lodge boasts open lawns and extensive views out over the Gulf of Nicoya towards the hills of the Nicoya Peninsula and beyond; you will be able to enjoy some spectacular sunsets from here. The 865-acre property is registered as a private wildlife refuge. It is an ideal place for naturalists, nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike.

Accommodation here is simple but charming, the comfortable villas all contain two beds, en suite bathrooms and spacious verandahs complete with a hammock, where you will surely want to sit back and enjoy a superb sunset. Because of its family management you will have the opportunity to participate in the daily activities of the farm which is a most unique and wonderful experience. The most important activities at the ranch include raising cattle and horses, as well as the production of salt and fruits.

After a delicious lunch, embark on an afternoon hike. At La Ensenada there are easy walking trails making it an excellent wildlife spot for many species of monkeys, and birds. Green Kingfisher and American Pygmy Kingfisher return to their favorite perches after each fishing plunge. Two species of Sac-wing bats roost on huge tree trunks. The Rufous-naped Wren symphony begins at daybreak, about 5:00 a.m., a most wonderful way to awaken. Listen for howlers and look for other mammals also, including white-faced capuchins, tamandua, prehensile-tailed porcupine, variegated squirrels, coati, and white-tailed deer. Sightings might include the Pacific Screech-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and Turquoise-browed Motmot.

Overnight at the LA ENSENADA LODGE. (B,L,D)

Day 3 ~ November 7

La Ensenada National Wildlife Refuge

This morning after a delicious home style breakfast you will embark on a boat tour along the canals of the Abangares River for a visit to the mangrove forest, an important ecosystem. Crocodiles may greet you as well as an occasional raccoon dining on its breakfast of crabs or iguanas. You may also glimpse Roseate Spoonbills, various hawks, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, egrets, Wood Storks, White Ibis, shorebirds, gulls and terns. The ever-present howler monkeys will serenade you as you glide over the water on your voyage.

After lunch, you will spend the afternoon hiking around the lodge itself. The dry forest habitat represents the prevalent forest type of the northern Pacific lowlands. Most of the canopy trees are leafless in the dry season and some may even flower. Many large trees have short trunks and wide, umbrella-shaped crowns; smaller ones are often gnarled. The underbrush will still have its leaves and will be dominated by stiff, small-leaved spiny shrubs and woody lianas. This is the habitat of the Thicket Tinamou, Banded Wren, Black-headed Trogon and the Scrub Euphonia. After a day of bird viewing, your efforts will be rewarded with a delicious dinner and the warm company of your fellow birders.

Overnight at the LA ENSENADA LODGE. (B,L,D)

Day 4/5 ~ November 8/9

Monteverde Cloud Forest

After breakfast continue to Monteverde, one of the most beautiful cloud forests in the world. This afternoon, prepare yourself for a very unique experience, the Selvatura Treetop Walk on hanging bridges. You will be surprised to find yourself – like the birds – admiring Mother Nature from the top of the trees. This is because from the beginning of your walk you will be ascending – step-by-step – until you find yourself as high up as the vegetation that will surround you (from 150 to 510 feet). Here, a series of eight bridges await you in order to safely walk without any worries. The almost 2-mile walk is an unforgettable experience with the excitement of looking to one side and seeing the tops of the trees and at the same time feeling the sensation of walking among the clouds.

Your second day here is spent exploring the Monteverde community and the private Cloud Forest Reserve with your naturalist-guide. Monteverde is a rich and complex cloud forest reserve which protects six different ecological communities, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and a renowned field site for biological research. Note that a “cloud forest” differs from a “rain forest”. In particular, a cloud forest will generally receive less rain on an annual basis than will a rain forest. However, a cloud forest generally has more humidity and (because of its higher altitudes) more cloudiness than a rain forest. The reserve encompasses about 10,000 acres, with many interesting trails to wander through the thick tropical vegetation. You’ll recognize many familiar house plants growing freely in the wild, including schefflera, bromeliads, and ferns, as well as some more exotic species. Although it’s difficult to spot them, more than 320 species of birds are resident, including the seasonal Resplendent Quetzal, considered by many to be the most beautiful bird in the Americas, as well as the Three-wattled Bellbird, Black Guan, Umbrellabird, Spangled-cheeked Tanager, Orange-bellied Trogon, Emerald Toucanet (you usually hear them more than see them), and numerous other specialties. Among the 100 species of mammals are the Baird’s tapir, jaguar and ocelot (all rarely seen), howler monkey, kinkajou, and prehensile-tailed porcupine.

For the adventurous at heart there is an optional (extra cost) exhilarating excursion available at the Sky Trek, a system of trails, suspension bridges, and zip lines that offers visitors the opportunity to observe and appreciate tropical vegetation from different vantage points. The system is integrated with a gorgeous Cloud Forest trail, 1 ½ miles long. Enjoy a different perspective of the Monteverde Cloud Forest that not many people have a chance to see—as most of the wildlife found in the Cloud Forest is living or feeding in the tree tops. Along with the 11 cables zipping through the canopy forest, two suspended bridges 160 feet off the ground, and some of the most beautiful trails in the Cloud Forest, take advantage of the Sky Trek’s observation tower that is 70 feet off the ground, where on clear days you can see the Arenal Volcano. This view reveals lush green gardens of mosses, ferns, flowers, and epiphytes growing on every tree.

Your lodging will be at the Fonda Vela Hotel, located on a 35-acre property, full of lush forests and verdant pastures that are excellent for birding and hiking. In this tranquil setting, you may see parrots and emerald toucans that come to feed in the fruiting trees occasionally. During certain months, the Fonda Vela is excellent for seeing Resplendent Quetzal, Three-wattled Bellbird and Keel-billed Toucans. Horses graze in the pasture below. The Fonda Vela Hotel has nine buildings nestled in the landscaped property, designed with natural lighting, privacy and warmth. All have large windows with views of the forest allowing the outside beauty to be a part of a cozy interior.  Their 20 junior suites, where you will be accommodated, have a small refrigerator, table, king and queen-size beds, a comfortable sofa and telephones.

Overnights at the FONDA VELA. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 6/7 ~ November 10/11

Tarcoles River/Carara National Park

Drive this morning to Villa Lapas which is located in the transition zone between the dry and moist forest of the Pacific lowlands. En route, you will stop at the Tarcoles River which is legendary for bearing one of the most important crocodile populations in Costa Rica. Some of these animal reach more than four meters long! In addition to the crocodiles, you can also watch the great diversity of birds of this area, including Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Pelicans, Frigatebirds, Scarlet Macaws and countless others.

The Villa Lapas Hotel is located in the province of Puntarenas, only 75 minutes from the capital of Costa Rica. Its strategic location next to the Carara Biological Reserve is key to the beauty that surrounds the facilities. The property is surrounded by one of the last tropical rain forests in the Pacific coast. The area protects numerous indigenous plants and animals and there are many possibilities to observe the secrets of this natural treasure. The resort offers 47 rooms, all with balconies enjoying vistas of either river, garden or pool views. In addition all rooms come fully equipped with a/c, telephone, and en suite bathrooms.

If time permits, you may want to indulge in an optional canopy walk located in Villa Lapa’s own private reserve. “Villa Lapas Sky Way” is a union of natural trails and hanging bridges (hammocks) throughout a wonderful rain forest of centenary trees. Depending on the time which you take this tour, you can see many species of birds and animals. This trail has a length of 2.5 km with a descending slope. This tour is very accessible for children and adults of all ages offering total security from any kind of danger. This new attraction consists of 5 bridges, four of which are 1000 meters long (329 feet), each, and the fifth is half that length. They are totally built in metal and have holds with metallic towers, as well as a fence and plastic rail for added security and comfort.

In the evening, bird in nearby Carara Biological Reserve, or take a hike on one of the trails within Villa Lapas. This reserve is one of the last remaining tracts of tropical rainforest on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, and as such plays a vital role in providing refuge for an amazing array of native plant and animal life. The biological diversity is astounding due to the geographic location of the reserve in the transition zone between the Mesoamerican dry forest and the Pacific Coast tropical rainforests. Enjoy the raucous flight of Scarlet Macaws, the dexterous foraging of White-faced Monkeys, the search for brightly colored Harlequin Poisondart Frogs, or the deceptively lazy flight of a large Blue Morpho Butterfly.

Overnights at the Villa Lapas Hotel. (B,L,D Daily)

Days 8 ~ November 12

Cerro De La Muerte Mountains/San Gerardo De Dota

Today you will travel to Costa Rica’s southern region where your next escapade awaits you at the Cerro de la Muerte Mountains. In English, Cerro de la Muerte translates to Death Hill; it was not named, as one might imagine, for a spot where many men had fallen to their deaths. The area became infamous for the number of brave souls who lost their lives to the bitter cold as they negotiated this 11,500-foot-high section of the trail. These highlands are Costa Rica’s largest protected region; composed of 13 different units summing up a total preserve of 95,000 hectares. This area also is the northernmost extent of the páramo habitat – a highland shrub and tussock grass habitat more common in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru than in Costa Rica. You will be overwhelmed by the variety of flora and fauna in this area… the mountainous oak forest, which is the principal forest type of high elevations. The dominant trees are magnificent oaks reaching 125 ft. in height, like the wild brazilletto and winter’s bark tree. Undoubtedly, it is not only the perfect spot for nature enthusiasts, but for birdwatchers as well. Savegre is a very peaceful place where you can enjoy yourself walking through the cloud forest. Follow the hiking trails covered with tree ferns, palms and multicolored mushrooms, lichens and bromeliads. Many of the giant oak trees are more than 100 years old.

 The Savegre Mountain Lodge is located in San Gerardo de Dota, near the Cerro de la Muerte Mountains, where more than 170 species of birds, including the Resplendent Quetzal and other exotic wildlife reside. Accommodation is offered in twenty cabins, surrounded by one of the finest examples of highland cloud forest on the planet, and set in a valley so spectacular that a post card photographer might pass it up because nobody would believe it was true. All cabins come fully equipped with en suite bathrooms, hot showers and heating. Enjoy a delicious home-made meal in the lodge’s dining room, while watching the Fiery-throated, Gray-tailed Mountain Gem, Scintillant and Volcano hummingbirds, frequenting the numerous feeders at the balcony of your dining room. In addition there is a bar area and a small gift shop. The unique surroundings of the lodge consist of apple orchards, a small dairy farm and trout farm. Personal attention and family hospitality from three generations of the Chacon family, which have been farming in this lovely valley since 1955, are just a few of the reasons you will definitely want to come back.

Overnight at the SAVEGRE MOUNTAIN LODGE. (B,L,D)


 Day 9 ~ November 13

Savegre Private Forest

Bird watching is one of the main attractions at Savegre…the beautiful environment of biological corridors makes this attractive region a paradise, where more than 170 species of birds peacefully coexist with man. Various migratory species arrive throughout the different seasons of the year joining the native species to add still more colorful views for birdwatchers. Among the visitors are the orioles, warblers and raptors. A few of the natives include the Yellow-winged Vireo, the Flame-throated Warbler, Tufted Flycatcher, Volcano Junco and various others.

Your hike today will be mostly focused on the Resplendent Quetzal. In the early 1500’s, the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Mexico. There, as a gift from the Aztecs, he received a headdress of Quetzal feathers. Only Aztec royalty had the privilege of wearing such highly esteemed adornments. The jade-green plumes of the Quetzal may have been considered more valuable than gold. Today this extraordinarily beautiful bird claims as its habitat a vast territory from Mexico to Panama. The Quetzal can be found in cloud forests at altitudes of between 4,000 and 10,000 feet. The clouds in the forests are the product of rising warm air cooling quickly. The results are year-round lush vegetation in verdant tones and massive trees that reach one hundred feet or more into the fog. In this way the bird can live up to its name. “Quetzal” is taken from the Aztec word quetzalli, meaning “precious” or “beautiful.” The bird’s body measures about 14 inches in length, about the size of a pigeon. However, it has tail feathers which can extend as long as three feet. Both the male and the female are an iridescent emerald and golden green with tail feathers in iridescent blues and greens with white under tails. The green camouflages them in the rain forest. The male has a head crest and red breast feathers with a white under tail. The females are duller and have fewer red breast feathers and short tail plumes. The Quetzal is truly a splendid bird.

Through the years, these safe and comfortable walking trails are traversed by people of all nationalities, ages and walks of life – each with a different objective … scientific investigation, adventure, a bit of exercise, birdwatching or simply to find the peace that comes with the beautiful cloud forest and pure fresh air. The lodge has 35 kms of forest trails, mostly through virgin woods. The altitude varies form 7,220 feet to 11,384 feet. Enter the forests into a cathedral-like setting with columns of hundred-year old trees, multi-colored plants and mushrooms, celestial choirs of birds, and multitudes of insects, amphibians and mammals that will make your walk magical and unforgettable.

Overnight at the SAVEGRE MOUNTAIN LODGE. (B,L,D)

 Days 10/11 ~ November 14/15

Sarapiqui/Selva Verde

You will reach your accommodation, the Selva Verde Lodge, in the afternoon. Founded in 1985, Selva Verde Lodge is located in the lush lowlands of northeastern Costa Rica on a very large, private tract of tropical rain forest and rich second-growth habitats. It is adjacent to Braulio Carrillo National Park and the Organization for Tropical Studies field station, La Selva. While at Selva Verde, you may schedule an array of activities suited to your every interest and ability, from relaxing in a hammock and absorbing the wonder of the forest, to canoeing on the Sarapiquí, or hiking Selva Verde’s rain forest trails with a resident naturalist. Delicious meals featuring the local cuisine are served by gracious, native Costa Ricans. An open and spacious dining room with its thatched roof harmonizes well with the jungle ambience. The resident managers, fluent in English and Spanish, are attentive to your every need.  Beyond its roughly 500 acres of preserved rain forest, the lodge boasts a resident naturalist, local guides and an ever-expanding reference library. The Lodge provides ample accommodations in 45 double rooms with private baths and showers. The rooms are well maintained and open into large, spacious, wooden balconies.

In addition to any extra activities you may choose to partake in, you will be going on a white-water rafting trip on the beautiful Sarapiqui River. Winding through the region of the “Eternal Spring,” this river offers some of Costa Rica’s most lush and vibrant scenery. Free-flowing, it has its origins in clear mountain streams that tumble down through thick rainforest, finally joining together in the crystal waters of the beautiful Sarapiquí. Verdant forest reaches right up to the river’s sun-basked banks. If Matisse had come to Costa Rica, this is what he would have painted! This narrow, low-volume river is ideal for white-water novices, as well as families, all of whom will enjoy its moderately flowing rapids, interspersed with tranquil stretches. The journey is also excellent for bird-watchers and other nature lovers, as the river stretches its way through lush vegetation that is home to hummingbirds, toucans, woodpeckers, and scores of other native bird species. Don’t miss this classic tropical river experience! After a short safety briefing, you will rig your raft and begin the journey downriver. Lunch is served on the banks of the river.

Overnights at the SELVA VERDE LODGE. (B,L,D Daily)

Day 12  ~ November 16

Virgen Del Socorrro Reserve/La Paz Waterfall Garden/Heredia/San Jose

This morning you will have the chance to visit the Colonia Virgen Del Socorro, a farming community and a birding area located about one hour from Puerto Viejo. Explore La Virgin Del Socorro, a middle elevation forest on the Caribbean slope of the central Volcanic Mountain Range that runs along the canyon of the Sarapiqui River. The humidity carried by the trade winds coming from the Caribbean ocean created the perfect habitat for a great variety of epiphytes which provide food for over 400 species of birds. Some hummingbirds and tanagers are all indigenous to the area. En route, stop at Heredia, one of the most beautiful provinces in Costa Rica, known for its verdant coffee plantation covered hills and volcanic national parks. The Braulio Carrillo and Tapanti National Parks sit in the north of Heredia and are packed with a plethora of wildlife. Due to the constant rainfall, these parks offer bird lovers a rare glimpse of the quetzal, one of the most culturally significant birds in Central America. After lunch, drive back to San Jose and your charming hotel, where the remainder of the day is at leisure.


Days 13 ~ November 17

San Jose/Salt Lake City

This morning after breakfast, drive back via private transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose. Sadly it is now time to say “adios” to hospitable Costa Rica. (B)


DEPOSIT: $750 per person, due at time of booking

Reservations must be accompanied by the guests’ full name.

FULL PAYMENT: Due 95 days prior to departure.

In the event that reservations must be cancelled, refunds will be made according to the following schedule:

  • Up to 75 days prior to departure, less $250 handling fee.
  • 74-60 days prior to departure, deposit is forfeited.
  • 59-45 days prior to departure, less 50% of tour cost.
  • Less than 45 days prior to departure, no refund due.
  • These cancellation fees are also in addition to any imposed by airlines.

As many advance logistical arrangements have been made prior to the operation of these trips, we must adhere to the cancellation policies. We strongly suggest guests purchase trip cancellation insurance.

* All prices, inclusions and dates may be subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control.



For more information about the Zoo’s Travel Program call 801.584.1737 or email the Zoo’s Travel Coordinator.