New Hogle Zoo Exhibit Highlights Utah’s Local Wildlife

April showers not only bring May flowers but also a new exhibit at Utah’s Hogle Zoo! The 22 million dollar expansion, suitably named Wild Utah, features some of our state’s most elusive wildlife.  President and CEO at Hogle Zoo, Doug Lund said, “The Aline W. Skaggs Wild Utah exhibit is unlike any other zoo experience. From cougars, desert bighorn sheep, burros, western toads and yellow-bellied marmots, you’ll see Utah’s vast and varied wildlife up close.”

This new expansion may be the biggest news to come out of Hogle Zoo since the zoo announced last May that its longtime elephant residents, Christie and Zuri, would head to new homes in hopes of finding a better quality of life. 

The new development spans three acres located on the east side of Utah’s Hogle Zoo. Lund said, “The exhibit opens a new area to enjoy the zoo and new spaces to create champions for wildlife.” The expansion has been carefully designed to include many unique features, including, “animal experiences, hands-on conservation opportunities, and behind-the-scenes access to animal care. [At the exhibit] guests can engage with Utah wildlife like never before,” he said. 

One of the most engaging of these experiences is the Makers Space. This interactive area allows guests to participate in hands-on projects. These include building bird houses, assembling hummingbird feeders, creating seed pods and planting pollinators, all of which can be taken home afterwards by the participants. 

Another interesting section of the exhibit is the Nature Play Area & Interpretive Campsite. Here guests learn how to enjoy Utah’s wildlife and outdoor space responsibly. This education initiative is designed to promote a refreshed attitude towards nature and motivate environmentally friendly behavioral changes. What’s more, the expansion is helping to reduce Salt Lake City’s environmental pollution by using clean, renewable power. 

The expansion also includes the Overlook Terrace, which provides a panoramic view of the Wild Utah area, particularly of the bighorn sheep and cougar exhibits. 

For the focal point of the expansion, the zoo erected The Norma W. Matheson Education Animal Center. Said Lund, “This is where the ambassador animals will reside. These ambassador animals are part of our informal science education enhancement (iSEE) outreach program that teaches second-grade classrooms across the state about Utah habitats, sparking their curiosity and sense of wonder.” Additionally, the center features an interactive kitchen where visitors can learn about the diverse diets that different zoo animals digest and see demonstrations on how zoo meals are prepared.

As added enjoyment (and education), the animal center is also home for the Boreal Toad conservation project—an initiative that houses boreal toads and their eggs. (Due to habitat changes and a fungal disease referred to as “chytrid,” Utah’s boreal toads are in rapid decline and this project aims to reintroduce the endangered species to an environment similar to their original habitat.)

Not only can visitors be fascinated by the array of wildlife within the exhibit, but the beauty of the display, further enhanced by the use of the state’s local flora and topography. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the mural of monarch butterflies on the backside of Markers Space and a second mural of Utah’s pollinators—bees, flowers, etc.—on the east side of The Norma W. Matheson Education Animal Center. 

Although the opening date for the exhibit has not yet been announced, it is expected to be sometime in mid May.

Of course, when visiting Utah’s Hogle Zoo, visitors should not miss out on the other exhibits that are found within the vast menagerie. These include African Savanna, Great Apes, Asian Highland, Rocky Shores, Small Animals, Primate Forest and Rhino Exhibit. 

The zoo is open daily from 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM. Visitors can purchase tickets at the gate, but there is a savings of $2.00 if purchased online at their website. Locals can also choose to become annual members which not only provides access to exclusive events and benefits but helps to support the care and wellbeing of over 600 species of animals.

Brandi Christoffersen
Brandi Christoffersen
Since she was a young girl, Brandi Christoffersen has enjoyed writing and telling stories. During her time as managing editor for a resource magazine, the publication repeatedly won Utah’s Best of State award and other accolades. Brandi has also had the privilege to interview and write articles for many locally based celebrities, including Tan France, Ty Burrell, Ted Ligety and Bill Engval. Growing up in Northern Utah, Brandi always adored the beauty and magnificence of this amazing state. Although the allure of a metropolitan lifestyle did tempt her away to Chicago, the mountains and easygoing pace soon called her back home. Brandi currently resides in Park City with her son, Pierce and French Bulldog, Pepper. Brandi is honored to be writing articles and features about this amazing state, and is very grateful to be doing what she loves each day.

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