After a comprehensive evaluation, Utah’s Hogle Zoo has made the difficult decision to move Mom, Christie, 37, and daughter, Zuri, 14, to another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoo where opportunities for them to grow their family may increase.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is progressing through an exciting and transformational planning process to help ensure we meet the changing needs of our community and the complex needs of animals in the zoo’s care. We have talked to many professionals, consultants, community members and our staff as we carefully assessed what is best for all our animals, including elephants Christie and Zuri. The ultimate choice to move Christie and Zuri is to provide them both the best chance to have a calf in the important social dynamic of a multigenerational herd.
Christie and Zuri arrived safely at their new home, the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium (KCZoo), an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility like Utah’s Hogle Zoo. We worked with experts in the AZA African Elephant Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to find an instituion that would optimize their social and reproductive wellbeing. We had a set of criteria that must be met or exceeded, including a viable male for Zuri and Christie. We determined that KCZoo met and exceeded those criteria.
Before transport, keepers from Utah’s Hogle Zoo had multiple visits to KCZoo to get to know the new staff and elephant habitat. Likewise, the new staff visited Hogle Zoo to get to know Christie and Zuri before they moved. In addition to site visits, the teams shared documents, videos, health information, stories and had weekly video conference meetings to discuss all things Christie-Zuri. This collaboration between facilities helped prepare both teams for the transition of care. This relationship will last through decades and beyond as we work together to create the highest level of wellbeing for Christie and Zuri for the rest of their lives.
The herd will live together on more than three acres of outdoor space, including a large pool, mud hole, two waterfalls, shade structures, and a variety of substrates for the elephants to explore, interact and train. KCZoo completed $10 million in upgrades to its Elephant Expedition in 2020 and has recently renovated an indoor space for Tamani.
KCZoo has a herd of seven African elephants, with Christie and Zuri bringing their multigenerational herd to nine.In 2020 theKCZoo upgraded the3-acre Elephant Expedition habitat,providing ample space for the whole herd to thrive.
Christie and Zuri departed Utah’s Hogle Zoo on October 17, 2023, and arrived safely at their new home atthe KCZoothe following morning. Christie and Zuri,along with the keepers, trained for several months for the moveand they were calm and comfortableduring the entire process and journey.
Upon arrival at the KCZoo, a crew was ready to unload Christie and Zuri from their crates. Once unloaded, Zuri and Christie reunited immediately and underwent a brief health assessment. They were then able to start acclimating to their new home together. Introductions with the KCZoo elephant herd will begin after a standard quarantine period for all animals who move to a new AZA accredited facility.
Hogle Zoo’s elephant team will remain at the KCZoo to make sure the transition is smooth for Christie and Zuri.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo will always be a pillar of knowledge and support for Christie and Zuri, and the KCZoo will continue to collaborate with us on their management and progress with their new herd. Christie and Zuri will forever unite the two zoos and all AZA elephant care teams working together for the future of the elephant population in accredited zoos.
Princess Alice, the Asian elephant, came to Hogle Zoo nearly 100 years ago and we have had elephants ever since. Our guests love elephants and connecting with these incredible animals. We have keepers who are award-winning and have dedicated their careers to Christie and Zuri’s care since Zuri was a baby. Many experts and animal keepers have weighed in on this decision and believe it was the best thing for them. The elephants will be missed by the staff, guests and community.
It is an exciting time at Utah’s Hogle Zoo with a master plan underway and the new Wild Utah expansion opening spring of 2024 to evaluate the use of all our 42 acres and what opportunities are best for the wellbeing of complex species like rhinos, gorillas, polar bears, and orangutans.
We evaluated and considered the decision through a lengthy process and with the input and support of many experts and animal care staff. The transfer to the KCZoo was the best thing for Christie and Zuri’s reproductive opportunity and social dynamics in a multigenerational herd. They received excellent care at Utah’s Hogle Zoo with consistent signs of physical wellbeing and happiness here and will continue to receive excellent care at the KCZoo.
We support the AZA Species Survival Plan® in accredited zoos to give that important connection with the world’s animals to guests who may not otherwise have that possibility.
This was something we evaluated and considered through this lengthy process. Experts have evaluated our elephant exhibit and determined upgrades would be necessary before a bull elephant could live at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. The improvements would take significant time and investment, reducing Zuri’s prime reproductive time for offspring.
It is important to note that the wellbeing and opportunity for Christie and Zuri to join a larger herd within their reproductive windows was driving this decision. There are many factors we will be evaluating through the master planning of what to do with the space, including cost, opportunities, and overall guest impact and educational experience.
We have always appreciated the tremendous support of our state and community in connecting to wildlife and our care of animals. We are proud to meet and exceed animal care standards required by our AZA accreditation.
We are proud members of AZA and believe accredited zoos have a very important role in conserving animals in the wild. Approximately 100 wild elephants are killed each day and accredited zoos are working together to address this. When our millions of guests connect with the wildlife living in accredited zoos, they are inspired to take action. Every visit to an accredited zoo is an act of conservation. We made this decision to help introduce Christie and Zuri into a place that will offer them the best opportunity to grow their herd at the KCZoo that meets or exceeds the standards that we currently provide them with here and shares our mission.
About the Future and our commitment to animal wellbeing
Through a master planning process, we are evaluating all areas of the zoo’s 42 acres and what will be best for the animals and guest experience and connection to wildlife. An announcement of what will be in the elephant space will be coming in the next month as we finalize transfer plans. In addition, the white rhinos, George and Princess, will expand into the space.
Not likely. The zoo has reviewed costs and topography to weigh all the opportunities for the animals in our care and what animals we could have come to Utah. The current drafts of the 10-year master plan does not include a feasible way to house elephants at the level we believe the species deserves.
With our rich history in caring for elephants, Utah’s Hogle Zoo will always support elephant conservation and education through ticket sales and our worldwide partnerships.We will explore the use of the elephant space for opportunities for guests to experience and learn about other animals.
Yes. Utah’s Hogle Zoo is among only 10% of North American zoos and aquariums who adhere to the highest accreditation standards. We regularly meet or exceed those standards as a high priority of our focus on animal wellbeing and respect. We have been working with AZA on a compliance variance to meet the multi-herd standard of three elephants while we worked to produce a baby for Zuri through artificial insemination. Experts have evaluated our elephant exhibit and determined changes would be necessary before a bull (male) elephant could live at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.