Alright, folks, here it is: our last entry in the Jest Kept Secret Battle of the Zoos. So far, we’ve had the giant Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the philanthropic Babby Farms, and the small-town Tautphaus Park Zoo. Today’s entry is a middle-weight favorite for college students and young families of the Wasatch Range, but how does it rank as a zoo?
Please welcome Utah’s Hogle Zoo!
Variety of Animals
Fun fact: I lived in Provo, UT, for four years and heard people rave about Hogle Zoo allllllll the time, but I never actually went until I went back to Utah for a friend’s wedding. But let me tell you what: those friends who raved about it weren’t kidding. Hogle Zoo has over 800 animals, ranging from your standard favorites to a few I’d never seen before. That adorable Bat-eared Fox up there snoozing in the shade? Yeah. Never saw one of those before this guy, and it was love at first sight. What can I say? I love me a good pair of enormous ears.
They also had a good range of animals that I have seen before, but don’t get to see often. I especially liked the Grizzly Bears, which have maintained a soft spot in my heart ever since I did a research project about them in 8th grade.
Enclosures and Living Conditions
See? Told you I have a thing for ginormous ears. I’ve mentioned before that Elephants are one of my favorite animals—especially African Elephants—so any zoo that has them automatically gets a bonus point from me. But what I really loved about visiting the elephant exhibit was the number of enrichment activities they could choose from. It was a pretty warm day when we visited, but the elephants were active and moving around their enclosure, enjoying the water and all their toys. It warmed my big-ear-loving heart tremendously.
And the elephants weren’t the only critters whose living conditions impressed me. I love the Sand Cat’s cozy little bed and the sculpted termite mounds in the meerkat exhibit. The aforementioned Grizzly had boulders to climb on, logs to flip, and a waterfall. We also watched the keepers scatter big globs of ground meat around the enclosure so that Mr. Bear would have to hunt to find it. He had to be quick, though–a pair of enterprising magpies also saw the keeper put the meat out, and they’d take turns swooping down to steal bits of it before the bear found them.
Overall, I was very impressed by Hogle Zoo’s enrichment opportunities for their animals. They’re apparently pretty proud of them, too, because they have an entire page dedicated to animal enrichment on their website.
Not only is Hogle Zoo home to a good selection of threatened and endangered species, but they also do a significant amount of fundraising to support conservation groups around the world. All proceeds from rides on their Conservation Carousel go toward supporting the conservation of six endangered species: Boreal Toads, Bornean Orangutans, African Lions, African Elephants (yeeeeaaahhh!!!), Polar Bears, and Radiated Tortoises. They also have a number of sustainability initiatives, including recycling, energy efficient buildings, idle-free zones, and predator-awareness outreach. You can read more about their conservation efforts on their website.
One of my favorite parts of our visit to Hogle Zoo was watching the World of Flight bird show. I’ve long been a fan of birds of prey, so all of those hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls had my heart all a-flutter. And I found a new favorite! I had never seen a Steller’s Sea Eagle before, and the friends who joined me on this visit can attest to the fact that it turned me into a sappy, squealing mess. They look like cartoon characters—massive, violent, and cranky cartoon characters, but still. I couldn’t get enough.
The bird show was a highly entertaining and educational production, and the auditorium was packed to the gills. In addition to this show, they also have an elephant encounters program (which we missed—cue the tears), seal and sea lion training shows, a variety of wildlife connections programs, classes, camps, and outreach programs. Education is definitely one of Hogle Zoo’s strengths.
At $18.95 per adult and $14.95 per kid, Hogle is closer to the pricier end of the spectrum for the zoos I’ve visited. (However, after the Columbus Zoo post, several people told me that their local zoos are even more expensive, so apparently, I’ve been spoiled.) But as with the Columbus Zoo, I do think you get what you pay for. We spent several hours exploring the park, and there was a decent amount of shade to keep us cool on a hot summer day. Hogle is located 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake, and it’s right next to This is the Place Heritage Park if you want to make a full day of it. Parking was an absolute nightmare, though, and it’s quite a walk from the far end of the parking lot. Keep that in mind if you’re not going first thing in the morning.
So how does Hogle Zoo fare against our rating system?
[line]Variety of Animals
(5 / 5)[/line]
[line]Enclosures and Living Conditions
(5 / 5)[/line]
(5 / 5)[/line]
(5 / 5)[/line]
(3 / 5)[/line]
[price comment=”Final Score”] (4.6 / 5)[/price]
Plan Your Visit
[pricing_column_name comment=”Salt Lake City, UT”]Hogle Zoo[/pricing_column_name]
Under 3: Free
Ages 3-12: $14.95
Seniors (65+): $16.95
Prices shown are for the Summer season. Winter season (Oct 1 – Apr 30) tickets are $2 cheaper.
Prices subject to change. Please see official site for current prices.
What’s the best zoo you’ve visited?
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Please note: The Jest Kept Secret Battle of the Zoos is not an actual competition. These are personal reviews written by me and presented in this format for entertainment and informational purposes only. I do not represent any of the zoos reviewed in the Battle of the Zoos series. Please see each zoo’s respective official website for up-to-date information.