What an amazing year 2009 turned out to be! We began the year with considerable uncertainty about the economy and daunting challenges for fundraising. As the year ended, we had achieved milestone accomplishments, thanks to the continued support of the community, our donors and our loyal members.
The “staycation” phenomenon became a reality as, for the first time ever, more than one million guests visited Utah’s Hogle Zoo! This record was consistent around the country, as more than 180 million people attended accredited zoos and aquariums.
Through a comprehensive preparation process across ALL areas and departments of the Zoo, which occurs every five years, we once again achieved accreditation by AZA, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, joining only 219 other institutions with this distinction!
We completed and opened our new L.S. Skaggs Animal Health Center, through the generous support of the ALSAM Foundation and numerous other donors. This facility incorporated “green design and construction” practices, and as a result, we expect it to be LEED Gold Certified this year.
In the general election of 2008, 72% of voters approved bonds for Zoo improvements, provided we raise matching private funds. With tremendous generosity from individuals, foundations and others, we reached our matching funds goal of $11 million in 2009, and Salt Lake County is now ready to release $33 million in bond funds beginning early this year! This public/private partnership will drive the continued improvements to the Zoo, beginning with ROCKY SHORES, which will bring polar bears back to Hogle Zoo, along with otters, seals and other coastal critters. You’ll hear more about ROCKY SHORES in future issues of THE SAFARI.
Zuri, our first baby African elephant, was born in August after a 22-month gestation! Elephant births in zoos, while increasing, are still uncommon, but crucial to preserving this vital species. Christie has been a model mom, and Zuri continues to delight our guests and staff with her antics. Watching her grow up is going to be a delight in the years ahead. Zuri’s birth was joined by other significant births of Amur tiger, snow leopard, Siamese crocodile, golden lion tamarin, howler monkey, giraffe and many others. One of our staff referred to 2009 as “the perfect storm” for animal births.
More than ever before, 2009 reinforced the role in our community of Hogle Zoo as a great place for families to enjoy and for people of all ages to learn about wildlife and nature. It’s also a place where great things are happening for our animals and for the guests who come to see them.
As members, you are a big part of our success and progress. In 2010, look for more exciting member events, activities, and benefits. I hope you will visit often: you don’t want to miss a thing!