Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hogle Zoo was and is one strange place!



For some strange reason recently my thoughts have drifted into memories of the Hogle zoo as a kid. Perhaps it is the fresh scent of elephant dung circulating the house lately or the petting zoo I have been planning to put behind the garage? I am not sure, but something has got me thinking about the old times at the zoo. (It was called a zoo, but really it is just a collection of about 100 grungy animals lying around in concrete cages.) Does anyone else remember:

Those wax animals that you could have made for two dollars. I remember begging my mom for one of those things, only to be denied over fifty five times. There was something mystical and mysterious about owning a 4 inch mold of wax shaped like a gorilla. And what was with that machine that made those things? - They were huge! Back in 1987, it took eight tons of stainless steel and a six horsepower motor to construct a miniature piece of wax garbage.


  • Feeding the deer. Back in the day, the deer at Hogle Zoo would walk right up to the fencing and eat all the bread you could feed them. Of course, for a mere 25 cents you could feed the deer some deer pellets, which turned out to be a gigantic rip off because the deer had become accustomed to eating deer bread and not magical pellets. It would be like eating cake every day and suddenly someone throws a handful of carrots in front of you. Either carrots or deer pellets - either way, you're screwed. Was it at the zoo that a deer ate my sister's hair? I remember an animal eating my sister's hair, but I don't remember where.

  • The hippo cage. Now, I am not sure about this, and perhaps it was just a dream, but I swear I remember throwing food into the hippos mouth?? Of course, we all remember the sign in the hippos cage warning of all the crap that had been thrown into the hippo water. I remember as a child staring up at a giant butcher knife displayed in the case. I recall thinking, "What kind of crazy psycho would smuggle in a butcher knife and try to kill the hippo?!" That hippo must have really ticked someone off, what with it's big round teeth and open jaw. And why a butcher's knife? If you really wanted to kill a hippo, wouldn't you want to use a harpoon gun or a pitchfork? Perhaps someone tried, and those items were just too big to put in the casing. And who's to say that all of those things in the display case were not thrown in the hippo water by the same, one person: some deranged, wondering hippo killer; visiting the nation's zoos, searching a way to fulfill his sick, serial killer fantasies.

  • Again, I am not sure if this was a dream or not, but I could swear that they used to give elephant rides. If memory serves me right, I was propped up on the back of an elephant and we walked around in a circle. Like I said, could have been a dream, but perhaps someone has the same memory as me?

  • The petting zoo. I recall wondering around, not really wanting to touch any of the mangy, lice infested fur balls.

  • And how could I forget my experience with the roaming ostrich?

Of course, there are so many more fantastic oddities about that place: the round, stanky snake building, the lion drinking fountain, the nearly empty tiger cages. All in all, it was a pretty good place for a ten year old to spend an afternoon with his mom.

6 comments:

Esther said...

Abe, it was at Wheeler Farm that a COW tried to eat my hair. But I got bit by a french hen at the zoo (I think it was the zoo). I remember somewhere gave elephant rides. Maybe the zoo or Liberty park (for some reason that feels familiar, but makes no sense. Why would the park have an elephant?) But I do remember riding an elephant with you and Liz and Jeff Abbott.

tim and brandi said...

Hogle Zoo was my first real job. You should walk around that place after hours. THAT'S strange. I could tell you stories. But mostly I could make you a mean Churro.

Cousin Larry

Babe in Boysland said...

My sister rode a camel at Saltair. I had my fingers chomped by a goat at wheeler farm. I fed pellets to ducks at Gardener Village. But I never got that wax animal I longed for from Hogle Zoo.

What a deprived childhood I had.

Traci said...

My parents have a photo of me riding an elephant at the zoo. I have no recollection of it, but apparently it happened. Also, as a junior in high school, my biology class went there on a field trip. Somehow the group I was in got left there by the bus. We were left to fend for ourselves and were forced to take a long UTA bus journey (which included switching buses) to make it back to Murray High because none of our moms were home to come pick us up.

Tammy said...

Abe maybe you're thinking of the circus for the elephant ride. Or I do remember a metal elephant slide. Maybe you went down it but thought you were riding the elephant?

I loved those wax animals too! But I think in my day they only cost $0.50 because I remember putting the quarters in.

My favorite thing at the zoo was the little monkeys that were in an outdoor area and I believe it's gone now :(

Cheeseboy said...

Esther - Okay, I remember the cow/hair incident now. Good ridance! Yes, the elephant rides were real.

Tim - I remember you working there. I can never eat food at that place because of the smell.

Michelle - You have an amazing recolection of the hippo exhibit. I am sorry you never got the wax animal.

Tracy - Thank you for the proof that elephants really used to give rides at the zoo - I knew it! Amazing how well they treated the animals back then. I don't even think that the keepers are allowed in the elephant pen anymore.

Tammy, Your parents seem like the type to buy crap like the wax things - they are sometimes buying Lincoln and Calder crap from those quarter vending machine slots when we tell them no.