Utah's Hogle Zoo to End its Controversial Elephant Program, Much to the Delight of Activists

Utah's Hogle Zoo to End its Controversial Elephant Program, Much to the Delight of Activists

YouTube/Hogle Zoo

Utah's Hogle Zoo made an announcement saying that it would be relocating the last two elephants in its care for "the best chance to have a calf in the important social dynamic of a multigenerational herd." The zoo's remaining elephants, mother Christie, 36, and daughter Zuri, 13, will be going to an as-of-yet undisclosed facility.

All the zoo would say was that the two elephants will be moving to another Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo. "We are working with the AZA African Elephant Species Survival Plan® to find the elephants a new home that will optimize their social and reproductive well-being."

The statement went on to include that the zoo has struggled to impregnate Zuri through artificial insemination using imported elephant sperm and that it would be too difficult and expensive to bring a male elephant to Utah.

Their plans to "pause its continuous care of elephants that spans more than 100 years" comes as good news to animal activists after In Defense of Animals placed Hogle Zoo on its annual list of 10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in 2019 and 2020.

Activists reportedly want the ladies to go to a sanctuary rather than another zoo, but that remains to be seen. The first elephant in its care was Princess Alice, who arrived at Hogle Zoo nearly 100 years ago. The zoo noted that "we have had elephants ever since." They added that their keepers, "who are at the top of their field," have dedicated their careers to Christie and Zuri's care since Zuri was a baby.

As to the return of elephants to the zoo, the statement continued, "The future return of elephants to Utah's Hogle Zoo will be reviewed in the master plan process underway, which includes evaluating what the zoo must do to ensure the wellbeing of complex species like elephants, rhinos, gorillas, polar bears, and orangutans."

That's probably a "no" for the near future. You can see Zuri celebrating her birthday with her mother below.


Rebecca West

Rebecca is a writer and editor for both print and digital with a love for travel, history, archaeology, trivia, and architecture. Much of her writing has focused on human and animal health and welfare. A life-long pet owner, she has taken part in fostering dogs for military members during deployment and given many rescued and surrendered dogs the forever home they always wanted. Her two favorite canine quotes are, "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are," and "My dog rescued me."

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