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Zoo Says Goodbye to Dari

SALT LAKE CITY – (August 8)- A very difficult day for staff of Utah’s Hogle Zoo as they announce the passing of beloved Dari, the oldest African elephant in North America, and long-time Zoo favorite.

Dari1Dari came to Hogle Zoo in 1967. Not only did she outlive the average life- expectancy for elephants in the wild, which is 42 years, at 55 1/2 years old, she now holds the record for the longest-lived African elephant in America.

“That’s a testament to her care over generations,” said elephant manager Eric Peterson who worked with and trained Dari for close to 20 years. “It’s not just me taking care of her. It’s the people who worked with her before me. It’s the people who took good care of her in 1967 to get her where she is today. That’s what’s so neat – it’s generations of keepers and veterinarians that loved and took care of her. She touched a lot of lives.”

Hy-Dari, her name affectionately shortened to Dari, served as a beautiful ambassador of her endangered species to millions of Zoo guests – greeting them with her graceful presence and sometimes a bit of sass.

The senior animal received on-going extra attention from animal care and veterinary staff. But over the past several months, Dari’s condition began to decline. In May, Dari was found lying on the ground and Zoo staff brought in a crane to help hoist her. She stood immediately and began eating, but never completely recovered her full strength.

After finding Dari lying on the ground again this morning, animal care staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Dari based on her decline in health, comfort and mobility.

“We’ve been treating Dari for arthritis and other conditions associated with her age,” said senior veterinarian, Dr. Nancy Carpenter. “She was starting to have more bad days than good and didn’t have that fighting spirit. These are always difficult decisions.”

Peterson said “I saw the decline in her. It’s not a quantifiable thing where you can say ‘here are the steps in this process.’ It’s something you learn working with animals that you realize what they’re saying to you; that it’s okay to let go.”

Peterson and elephant staff agree that Dari was a tough elephant to train. “She was a very hard elephant to get close to because she wanted to make sure you were trustworthy. But once you got through her tough exterior, she was very affectionate.”

“She was the only elephant I’ve ever worked with that would seek out affection for no reason,” Peterson said. “If the other two elephants come over they want to know what’s in it for them. But she would just come up and want attention.”

Dari was the matriarch of the Zoo’s herd which still includes 26 year-old Christie and Zuri who turns six this month. The two elephants were allowed grieving time with Dari after she passed and are expected to go through a mourning period of their own.

Baby Burrowing Owlets

Lucy and Digger, our burrowing owl pair, recently hatched their first brood of chicks. They are the proud parents of three owlets hatched on June 20, 2015 in the exhibit in the Small Animals Building.

Digger was a wonderful provider for Lucy when she was incubating the eggs. (Only the females incubate the eggs until they hatch – about four weeks.) He made sure to bring her plenty of mice and king worms. The two are great parents, taking exceptional care of their chicks who are quickly growing up!

Read about Burrowing Owls.

Markhor Goats

Four male Turkmenian Markhor goats arrived at Hogle Zoo on May 12, 2015 from the Bronx Zoo.  After a short stay in the Zoo’s hospital, the year-old goats were moved to their new home along the Zoo’s south pathway just past Asian Highlands.  In the wild, these nimble goats are prey species of Amur leopard, snow leopard and Amur tigers.

Learn more about Markhors.

Sad Loss

Hogle Zoo News – Press Release
Utah’s Hogle Zoo Says Goodbye to Oldest Gorilla, Tino

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is mourning the passing of adult male gorilla, Tino. The great ape was 42 years old (roughly the same as a 90 year old human) and came to Hogle Zoo in 1986 from Milwaukee.

Animal care staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Tino based on his decline in strength, seeming lack of comfort and a lesser response to pain medications.

“He wasn’t quite as comfortable and was having a hard time getting around,” said senior veterinarian, Dr. Nancy Carpenter. “He was showing a multitude of problems and having more bad days than good – it was a quality of life issue.”

Veterinary staff also believe Tino had dementia, similar to Alzheimers in humans, that was getting progressively worse.

“We felt at his age, he had lived a good, long life and with the multiple problems that we didn’t feel we could cure, we felt euthanasia was the best step,” Dr. Carpenter said.

He got along well with the Zoo’s two female gorillas and was a crowd and staff favorite. “He was a great gorilla to work with,” Carpenter said. “He was very responsive to keepers and veterinary staff.”

“He was a spirited and playful guy who loved to have his toes tickled,” said senior ape keeper Erin Jones. “We’ll miss hearing his happy grumbles in the building.”

Hogle Zoo still has three Western Lowland gorillas; two females and one adult male and continues to work in conjunction with AZA gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Tino will continue to serve as an ambassador to his marvelous and highly endangered species as Hogle Zoo participates in the Great Ape Heart Project and the Great Ape Neuroscience Project and will also make contributions to the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum in Provo.

Elephant Gets Help

African Elephant, Dari, Gets by With a Little Help From Her Friends… And a Crane
SALT LAKE CITY (May 8) – The oldest African Elephant in North America and long-time Zoo favorite, 55 year-old Dari, had a difficult time getting up this morning.

Zoo staff found Dari lying on the ground unable to stand. With a stiff and arthritic hind leg, Dari could not get the leverage she needed to get up on her own.

Hogle Zoo brought in a large crane and, with a show of tremendous teamwork, over 20 Zoo staff from multiple departments helped hoist the 8,300 pound animal to her feet.

“She stood on her own the first try,” said elephant manager Eric Peterson who has worked with Dari for 19 years. “And within five minutes of being up she was eating normally. That says it all to me – she’s doing really well.”

Dari came to Utah’s Hogle Zoo in 1967 and has been a crowd favorite ever since. African elephants have an average life span of 42 years in the wild and Dari is going strong at 55 years – which is roughly the same as a 90 year-old human.

With Dari’s advancing age, Zoo veterinary staff work closely with the elephant staff to provide her with any medications she might need to keep her healthy and comfortable.