SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah’s Hogle Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in our state, bringing millions of locals and tourists alike through its doors every season to get a glimpse of the wondrous wildlife residing there.
As the zoo will soon say goodbye to its cherished elephants, we look back to over 100 years ago, when it first introduced the elephant that would put Hogle Zoo on the map for generations.
It all started in Liberty Park around 1911, where it was established with an investment of just $153. This would give them just enough to build inventory with original animals exhibited, including golden pheasants, demoiselle cranes, and white-faced ring-tail monkeys.
By 1916, with help from donations of pennies and nickels from schoolchildren in the community, the zoo had purchased its first elephant from a traveling circus for $3,250 — named “Princess Alice.”
The following year, a building was constructed in Liberty Park to house their new elephant. This enclosure wouldn’t be enough, though, as Princess Alice would regularly break out during the 1930s and wander 7th East in Salt Lake City. It’s reported that she would often be found with an assortment of clothing on her back from neighborhood clotheslines.
In 1931, after ongoing complaints from the locals, the zoo sought out a new location to house its animal wildlife. It would find an answer that year when Mr. and Mrs. James Hogle donated land at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, where it’s still located today.
As the zoo continued to develop, it would also face some adversity.
When the zoo’s water supply was cut off in 1934 for failing to pay a $195 bill, its superintendent responded by threatening to turn all animals loose if it was not turned back on. His response, while bold, had worked as water was soon restored to the facility.
During the early 1940s, as the Depression and World War II took hold of the country, the zoo suffered financial instability and the facility was in disrepair. Within a year, it would undergo enough renovation and cleaning to be declared “a fine zoo” by experts in 1946.
Two years later, a female “Liger” named Shasta was born from a father lion and mother tiger and would quickly become a famous attraction for guests at the zoo.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the zoo opened the Animal Giants Complex for elephants and rhinos, as well as a cutting-edge animal hospital.
By 1984, the Utah State Legislature recognized the zoo for its revenue potential and committed an annual grant to the zoo’s operating expenses. It was then that it would officially acquire the name Utah’s Hogle Zoo.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo saw new milestones when it reached record attendance in 2009, with over 1 million visitors for the first time. Today, the zoo continues to grow and expand, with its Wild Utah exhibit scheduled to open in late 2023.
No one knows for certain what the future holds for Utah’s Hogle Zoo, but if its grand history is any indication, we will surely see many more amazing spectacles in the years to come.