Tuesday, October 23, 2012

rocky shores

It was still kind of overcast and chilly on Sunday so we headed back up to town to give the Hogle Zoo another go.  It was busy but not packed and we headed in.  Quite a bit has changed since we were there last: the whole center of the zoo is under construction for the new 4.5 acre "African Savanna" exhibit, which will house giraffes, zebra, ostrich, small antelope and lions, presumably not all together.  The drawing of the proposed exhibit looked nice, a much better habitat for the giraffes (speaking of the giraffes, a new baby was born just a month ago) and the lions will be a new addition to the zoo.  During this construction, a number of animals have been moved, unavailable for viewing or maybe transferred to other zoos: the bison, peccaries, camels, black bears and mountain lions.  We do hope they bring the bear and the cougar back as it's important to have native Utah animals on display.

Those fences are electrified so the 
zoo's neighbors don't worry about escapees

But on to the real reason we went to the zoo - the new Rocky Shores exhibit.  The newest completed exhibit, they've done a really nice job of creating interesting habitats for the new river otters, sea lions, harbor seals, polar bear and grizzly bears.  Rizzo, the polar bear, has a big habitat to herself, with plenty of room to swim and coming up close to the viewing area to the delight of all the people watching.  Next door, the seals and sea lions share a pool, although it's big enough that they don't have to interact if they don't want to; the two young sea lions were having a ball, wrestling with each other underwater, porpoising up out of the water, chasing each other; the older sea lion, who I think is blind, kept out of their way but was clearly at home, swimming easily through the habitat.

Bear on the move

Most impressive were the three grizzly bear cubs, two females and one male, who don't seem much like cubs anymore.  The zoo acquired them from the wild near Yellowstone after their mother killed a camper and had to be put down.  These siblings are going to be huge and their habitat is better fortified than any others in the zoo.  One of the cubs was more active than the other two and walked up to the viewing window several times to look at the people looking at him; his claws were easily over two inches long and extremely intimidating.  It's very clear that these are wild animals.

Can you see those claws?  Yeesh ...

We ended up spending a couple of hours walking around and looking at all the animals.  I think they've done a very nice job with the Rocky Shores exhibit and would expect more quality work for the African Savanna exhibit as well.  The Hogle Zoo doesn't have much space to work with so I'm glad to see them making the most of what they have for their animals.

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