Author Archives: Jeff Meigs

Press Release – Warthog Walter

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is sad to announce the death of African Warthog, Walter


Salt Lake City, UT (Oct. 9, 2019) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is sad to announce the death of African Warthog, Walter.

Walter (L), with brother, Swifty (R)


The 14 month-old warthog was not eating well and having trouble urinating. Veterinarians performed an exam and confirmed Walter had stones in his bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body). They were able to surgically remove the bladder stones but the stone in the urethra was unable to be removed. The veterinarians stabilized the hog and placed a catheter which allowed his distended bladder to start to recover.

Walter was placed in ICU at the Zoo’s L.S. Skaggs Animal Health Center for close observation and daily treatments. Subsequent procedures to remove the urethral stone, including endoscopy, were not successful and the stone remained in the urethra.

For several days, Walter was eating on his own and doing well with the stone still in place. However, on Monday he took a turn for the worse and stopped eating. He was immobilized for blood-work, fluids and treatments (pain meds and antibiotics) but on Tuesday he had abdominal swelling diagnosed to be urine leaking from the area surrounding the stone. Due to the trauma to the urethra and the inability to repair the urethra to a functional state, humane euthanasia was performed.

Necropsy (animal autopsy) results showed the stone was not in an attainable area and it took veterinarians over an hour to reach it. With the unusual nature of a pig’s urinary system – having an ‘S’ shaped curve – it was difficult to find the stone even in the post-mortem.

Keeper, Melissa Farr with Swifty and Walter. Giraffe, Riley, looks on


“It’s not clear how or why Walter developed stones though diet could be a factor,” said Dr. Nancy Carpenter, Director of Animal Health. “In pet pigs, urinary stones are a frequent finding. Although this has not been reported in this species, it has been reported in Visayan Warty pigs.” In consultation with zoo nutrition manufacturers, the diet was changed to a pellet specially designed for urinary health in pig-type species in the hopes of preventing a similar problem in his brother, Swifty.

“It’s very tough when one of your animals becomes sick,” said African Savanna lead keeper, Melissa Farr. “You pour even more love, attention, medical care and prayers for them. We will miss him very much and will continue to give our very best care to his brother, Swifty.”

Walter and Swifty were new additions to African Savanna, arriving in June of 2019, from San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The two ran around together, chasing and getting chased by the zebras and adding a bit of playful chaos to the Savanna.

“Walter was very shy when he first came to the Zoo,” Farr said. “We earned his trust and he enjoyed spending time with us. He would come running across the Savanna when we called him. He loved bananas, cleaning up alfalfa scraps left from the giraffes, sparring with logs and basking in the sun with this brother Swifty who is getting lots of extra attention from keepers.”



Hogle Zoo is working to bring in another warthog soon to be a companion for Swifty. Warthogs typically form bachelor herds in the wild.

Life expectancy for a warthog is roughly 15 years in the wild but up to 20 years in human care. Warthogs in the wild are threatened by habitat destruction. They are also hunted for bushmeat, skins and tusks.


Media inquiries and requests should go through Erica Hansen, 801-541-6112


Utah’s Hogle Zoo is one of only 225 accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).  Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things.  AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information visit


Utah’s Hogle Zoo Says Goodbye to Giraffe, Kipenzi

Utah’s Hogle Zoo Says Goodbye to Giraffe, Kipenzi

Utah’s Hogle Zoo is mourning the passing of 15 year-old Kipenzi, a spunky giraffe known for her agreeable nature and love of treats and visitors.

With broken hearts, the animal care team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Kip, Friday, July 12, after she began showing signs of gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction. Keepers noted Kip’s appetite severely decreased in early July and she did not pass feces.

Giraffes are ruminants, meaning they have four stomach chambers. Necropsy (animal autopsy) results showed gastric ulcers in one of Kip’s stomach chambers and areas of bloating and redness in her intestine which appeared to have shut down. Tissue samples were taken for further testing and microscopic analysis by expert zoo pathologists.

Extensive efforts were made on Kip’s behalf including new medications and multiple procedures. After exhausting all treatment options and supportive measures, it became apparent Kipenzi was not going to recover.

“Kip’s GI problem was unforeseen,” said Dr. Erika Crook, Associate Veterinarian. “We’d been working with Kip daily trying to resolve her foot problem.”

Kip didn’t have a normal right rear foot because of an injury from over a decade ago. Her outside “toe” was growing at an abnormal angle. Last year, the other toe, her inside toe, became infected. The Zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams aggressively treated Kip’s foot with antibiotics, flushing, bandages, laser treatments and progressive stem cells.

Due to Kip’s good nature, the animal care team inserted and maintained a catheter in Kip’s neck vein allowing them to administer antibiotics intravenously for over a month. This has never been done before in an adult giraffe.

Kip receives IV treatments through neck catheter


“We will not know for certain until the lab results come back if there is a connection between Kip’s GI issues and her foot,” said Dr. Crook. “But antibiotics and pain meds can be hard on the GI tract.”

Kip was already fighting an uphill battle as a 1,700 lb. animal on a bad foot but her agreeable nature and love of a good bread allowed keepers to keep her spry and active.

The animal care team is quick to point out their ability to treat her has everything to do with Kip. “She actively and willingly participated in her medical care every step of the way,” said Dr. Crook. “She allowed us to touch her, to look at her foot and to treat her. She did that because of her relationship with her keepers and through positive reinforcement.”


A One-Of-A-Kind Giraffe 

“Kipenzi was the most special giraffe any of us have ever known,” said Melissa Farr, Lead Keeper, African Savanna. “She taught many new keepers the ropes of giraffe care, and continues to inspire awe in seasoned keepers with her amazing demeanor.”

“She was so much more than a giraffe,” said Holly Peterson who cared for Kip for 14 years. “She was my friend, my co-worker and part of my family. She taught me so much and brought so many amazing people into my life. She was also a calm influence on new giraffes, like Minka, and taught them it’s okay to trust us.”

“She loved her fans,” said Farr. “If we needed to distract her for medications or something, we’d invite a group of staff to come visit her. She knew she had a loyal following.”

“We’ve joked she’d rather hang out with people than other giraffes,” Farr said. “When she had visitors, you could see ‘Princess Kip’ coming to greet her subjects.”

Kip liked to tease keepers to get more treats!


“She also loved to be the center of attention,” Peterson added. “She’d find ways to get our attention, like pick up our rakes. She figured out she’d get a treat if she gave them back.”

Peterson remembers Kip meeting a guest who had been severely injured in a fall. Dealing with her own foot issues, Kip immediately connected with the guest. “They just understood what the other was dealing with – it was a powerful moment.”

Kip came to Hogle Zoo, from Brookfield Zoo, in 2005. She moved from the old giraffe barn to the new African Savanna in 2014. While she was cautious and slow to get acclimated to her new surroundings she grew to love her new space and daily giraffe feedings.

She was a three-time mother and a wonderful “auntie” to 10 month-old Georgetta and to new arrival, 2 year-old Minka who recently came to us from Fossil Rim two weeks ago and is still in quarantine in the giraffe barn. Along with the young giraffes, the Zoo also has adult female Pogo and male, Riley. The Zoo continues to work in conjunction with AZA, SSP (Species Survival Plan) .

Kipenzi will continue to serve as an ambassador to her marvelous yet threatened species. CT scans of her feet will help document normal giraffe anatomy as well as the localized disease process going on in her digits. Another lasting legacy will be generating new stem cells from her adipose tissue (fat) to be used for fellow giraffes in need.