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Downed trees from recent windstorm find new purpose among the grizzlies at Hogle Zoo

Posted at 1:52 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 15:52:21-04

SALT LAKE CITY — When hurricane force winds pounded much of northern Utah on September 8, it was hard to see that any good would come from it.

The winds downed hundreds of trees, damaged homes and vehicles, and left thousands of Utahns without electricity for days.

But now, some of those downed trees are being used in good ways.

A lot of them were shipped to the Navajo Nation and other Native American communities in the state to be used as firewood.

Now sixty of the downed trees have found their way to Hogle Zoo.

Grizzly bears, polar bears, elephants and African Savanna animals will all get tree stumps, trunks and branches to explore.

The Grizzly bears were the first to find new trees in their exhibit Friday.

“It gives the animals something new to smell,” said Erica Hansen, with Hogle Zoo. “Something new they can really use their claws or tusks even to dig through that bark.”

All 60 trees donated to the zoo come from parks all over the city, like Liberty and Fairmont parks.

“I think a lot of us have been sad to drive through some of our parks and see these gorgeous trees blown over, so this was kind of a great silver lining where we were able to repurpose some of those old trees,” Hansen said. “The bears should come out, they love digging those claws in there, they want to look for little bugs, they want to look for anything that smells new, smells neat, it's great for their claws.”

It can be pretty expensive to maintain the landscape of each exhibit so this donation is a huge help to the zoo.

“When this exhibit went in, it was several thousand dollars and the grizzlies came right in and just dug it up, ripped it to shreds because that’s what grizzlies do and that’s what we want them to do,” Hansen said. “So this just kind of helps us keep that replenished.”

Hansen says the zoo worked with the city, the Division of Forestry and Wagstaff Crane as well as others to make this project happen.