Shafts of sunlight pierce Tracy Aviary’s dense conifer forest, sending great grey owls into hiding until nightfall, when they emerge to hunt silently above the treetops. The Owl Forest is just one of five diverse ecosystems that dot the aviary’s eight acres. Nearby, at the South American Pavilion, aviary keepers tend to keel-billed toucans as their colorful beaks break through the cereal boxes in which they incubate. And on the Kennecott Wetland, visitors can espy long-billed curlews and American coots roosting in the tall grass.
In addition to providing a diverse habitat in which native and endangered species can thrive, Tracy Aviary’s curators strive to educate visitors about threats to avian species and to encourage stewardship. To that end, the aviary frequently hosts bird encounters, small group talks with avian keepers, and even the opportunity to feed various species.
The Living Planet Aquarium has become one of Utah´s most unique and popular attractions, and is definitely a must-see if you are planning a trip to Utah. Exhibits feature sharks, rays, seahorses, jellyfish as well as octopus, eels, starfish, amphibians, trout and other freshwater species.
Sugar Space Studio for the Arts offers an expansive and constantly updated schedule of innovative visual and movement-based arts classes, including Ayurvedic and Ashtanga yoga, martial arts, dance, and more. In Aerial Silk classes, students use fabric to wrap, suspend, and spiral their bodies into and out of skeleton-contorting positions. Limbs and trunks can explore movement and response in Contact Improvisation, a form of postmodern dance. For those with previous belly-dance training, Intermediate/Advanced Bellydance with Yasamina translates basic movements into more complex and dynamic combinations, leveling up the wow factor of performances. In addition to movement-based courses, Sugar Space will be adding experimental art and pottery classes for kids 5–12 this fall, so children can spin their imaginations in clay. Reservations are recommended to reserve your space and ceiling-hung ribbons as needed.
To more than 9,000 students, artist Harold Petersen is known simply as “Pete.” In founding the Petersen Art Center in 1994, Pete created a place where creative minds could come together, express themselves, and share their abilities with others. Pete has been teaching for more than 50 years, and he continues to lead students each week in the fine arts of drawing and working with watercolors. In addition to giving pupils the benefits of his own expertise, he has assembled a crack team of sculptors, painters, and visual artists to help students navigate the right sides of their brains.
Traditionally, if you wanted to find out the length of a giraffe's tongue, you'd have to hide in a tree with a ready hand and a yardstick. Utah's Hogle Zoo has streamlined the process, however: one of its animal encounters allows guests to feed the long-necked creatures alongside a keeper, who will happily tell you that their purple tongues stretch for 20 inches. The giraffes are just one of more than 800 animals inside the zoo grounds. Spanning 42 acres of verdant hillside property, the exhibits strive to showcase fauna in arenas that mimic their natural habitats.
The polar bear inside Rocky Shores—the zoo's largest exhibit to date—lumbers through a landscape inspired by North America's western coast, with a pool that affords guests underwater views of the bear’s attempts to secure its swim cap. Snow leopards, Siberian lynxes, and amur tigers prowl the Himalayan-inspired scenery of the Asian Highlands. At Elephant Encounter's African Lodge, visitors can touch an elephant skull or a rhino horn before glimpsing the pachyderms in the flesh. Summer shows send eagles and hawks swooping overhead in the Wildlife Theatre. From loping wolves and toothy crocodiles to the sagely gorillas of the Great Apes house, the beasts all benefit from the staff's enrichment efforts, which encourage learning as well as instinctual behaviors.
As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Utah's Hogle Zoo demonstrates a commitment to wildlife conservation that extends beyond its gates. Many of its special events contribute funds to preservation programs. For example, the Orange Utahn Art show raises donations for endangered primates, selling original works by both local artists and the zoo's orangutans, who compose colorful paintings. Guests can even get a closer look at imperiled species by saddling up on top of one—the Conservation Carousel arrays 42 hand-carved sculptures of at-risk animals, such as the red panda, the giant panda, and the false panda, which is just a black poodle that rolled in some paint.