On Sunday, my 6-year-old cousin, A,, and I headed to Hogle Zoo, located in Salt Lake City.
I haven’t been to the zoo since last year, so the changes were a bit of a shock.
The iconic mini-train ride of my childhood is no more. In its place is a mass of fencing, mounds of dirt, and signs for the upcoming ‘African Savanna’ opening in 2014. I’m glad we’re getting the African cats back (they’ve been gone for a few years now as the zoo is doing its exhibits by geographic region rather than just a mix of everything), but I’m going to miss the random assortment of animals visible from the train ride: buffalo, sheep, etc.
**Update! After scoping out the zoo’s website, I am happy to report that the train will reopen in 2014 and feature a longer ride around the new African Savanna exhibit! We’re talkin’ free-roamin’ giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. Nice!**
Zuri, the baby African elephant is still as cute as ever and growing so big! Her mommy looks after her very well. She just celebrated her 2nd birthday and is as playful as ever. She even has her own blog! The elephants have become one of my favorite exhibits in the past few years. Like everything else at the zoo, their enclosure was completely redone and made much more visitor-friendly.
The big draw at Hogle these days is the new ‘Rocky Shores‘ area. We finally got the polar bears (bear?–I only saw one) back! It’s been years since the zoo had polar bears. After the female bear had 2 cubs and the crowds became out of control, the higher ups decided that their enclosure had to be redone, so off they all went to other zoos. The new enclosures have been years in the making, but they are done and we have not only the polar bears back, but lots of new animals too. The Rocky Shores area also features sea lions, seals, otters, and grizzly bears.
The day was exceptionally hot (it was really only about 75F, but for a girl who just got back from cold Alaska, it was BOILING!). Nearly every animal was passed out in the dirt, trying to nap away the warm afternoon.
A., as per usual, was more interested in the carousel and water fountain than the animals.
Like me, she was disappointed that the train was closed, but she soon forgot about it when she hopped onto her carousel animal, a snow leopard.
After a few hours of walking around, we enjoyed one of my all-time favorite zoo/carnival/amusement park snacks: Dippin Dots. It was A’s first time trying them and she kept taking too big of bites and getting a brain freeze. It was hilarious.
We decided that we’d seen everything we wanted to (and she’d ridden the only ride), so we called it a day.
This lion drinking fountain has been around for decades. It’s been there since I was little and I believe that it was there when my parents were children as well. While it was once in a prominent spot near the gorilla house, it has now been relegated to a back alley. It’s sad but I am happy that they didn’t get rid of it entirely; it’s fun seeing my cousin enjoying it as much as I once did.
I’d love to go back to the zoo for another visit before I leave Utah. This time sans whiney 6-year-old. The zoo has undergone some major updates and renovations and it definitely takes more than a couple of hours to really experience everything.
If you are ever in Salt Lake City and looking for a fun place to spend a few hours, check out Hogle Zoo!
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