The best thing about Utah’s Hogle Zoo is, of course, the animals. For being a “small” zoo, Hogle Zoo has all your kids’ favorite animals and more. There are elephants, bears, giraffes, zebras, big cats, penguins and many different types of monkeys and gorillas. The animals are generally very active. The one animal that seems to spend all it’s time sleeping is the red panda.
Glass enclosures allow for close views of the animals. This is especially true of the monkeys and gorillas. These animals will come right up to the glass to eat their lunch and watch the tourists pass by. One unfortunate thing is that, due to cement barriers you must remove children from strollers to see a lot of the animals. This is the case at any zoo though, for safety reasons.
The new Elephant Encounter exhibit is very large and provides a great view of the elephants, as well as many activities for the elephants to do. There are toys and enrichment items for the elephants and a bathing pool.
Animal enrichment programs are provided for all the animals and are fun to watch. Generally, these involve giving the animals out-of-place objects to play with or explore. For example, a gorilla may be given a tube stuffed with paper to pull out, revealing a treat.
Food is reasonably priced compared to other facilities, although it is still worth bringing your own, especially due to long lines for snacks in the summer. The zoo is kept very clean.
Entrance to the zoo is open from 9-4 in the winter and 9-5 in the summer, with the park staying open 1 ½ hours later. Current admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children (3 and older) and seniors (65 and older).
Tips for visiting Hogle Zoo in the Winter.
It may be cold, but there are plenty of places to warm up throughout the zoo. The monkey houses, giraffe barn and small mammal and reptile building are well heated and provide a close-up view of animals also hiding from the cold weather.
Many of the animals are more active during the winter time. The big cats – leopards, cougars, lynxes and the tiger – love to prowl around in the snow, or curl up against the viewing glass. Other animals don’t take the cold weather well. You aren’t likely to see the elephants, rhinoceroses or peccaries outside if it’s below 40 degrees.
Some animals you can visit inside in the winter. The monkeys and lemurs are all in their inside pens. Seeing the giraffes when they’re kept in their barn is a wonderful viewing opportunity. They are close up and the 2-story building allows visitors to view them from above as well.
Tips for visiting Hogle Zoo in the Summer.
In the summer, as well as on nice Saturdays and holiday weekends in the winter, Hogle Zoo can be unbearably crowded. You have to wait your turn, or push and shove to see many of the animals. Parking is also quite limited at the zoo and it can often be difficult to find a parking spot in the summer. The best bet for visiting the zoo in the summer is to visit during a weekday morning when Hogle Zoo first opens.
Fun things for kids to do at Hogle Zoo.
One of the many fun things for kids to do at Utah’s Hogle Zoo is the playground. This isn’t just any playground – the play items include a snake slide, and empty turtle shells, eggs and a spider to climb on and through.
Your children are sure to enjoy the train ride at Hogle Zoo. For $1 each (75 cents for members) you can take a 5 minute ride around part of the zoo, including right through the bison pen! The narrated train ride also goes right by several other pens and cages where you can see the animals close up. A carousel is currently being built.
Occasionally keepers bring out small animals you can see up close or even pet, such as snakes, birds or small mammals. This is usually done for about ½ hour at a time and is not scheduled, although you may be able to find out more at the office when you visit.
Hogle Zoo sponsors many holiday activities such as Zoo Lights during the winter holiday season and Halloween activities. The zoo also offers educational and day camp classes for kids during the summer, including sleepovers!
Many of the animals’ pens have exhibits with things for kids to do. Children can feel bones or teeth, smell an animal’s favorite scents, or learn about an animals natural habitat or regional differences within a species.
Membership to Hogle Zoo. Membership to the Hogle Zoo is a great deal if you live in the Salt Lake area. There are a variety of membership levels, including individual, single parent and grandparent. Discounts on food and merchandise and reciprocal memberships to other zoos and aquariums are included with your zoo membership
Insider’s Tip: If you can time your visit with feeding time, often in the early afternoon, you’ll be treated to great views of the animals eating and playing with their food.