LOGAN – If you think animal acts are a thing of the dim past at the Ellen Eccles Theatre, guess again.
The staff of Zootah at Willow Park will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Logan’s hometown zoo on Saturday as the finale of the Random Acts Community Performance Series at the historic theatre. And what would a journey through five decades of the zoo’s history be without a few animal stars on stage?
The anniversary show will have a little bit of everything, according to Lora Meerdo, the zoo’s community relations coordinator.
“We’ll start off with a short presentation, narrated by Zootah director Troy Cooper, with photographs from the 1980s and 1990s,” Meerdo says. “Then we’ll check out what Zootah looks like today. We’ll also look at some of the animals that we used to have at the zoo, some that we still have and some of our newer arrivals here.
“We’ll also have a few of our animals there on stage too; that should be the really fun part.”
Meerdo predicted that the animal participants in the anniversary will include “a really big snake,” some birds and a few surprises.
But the animals from Zootah aren’t likely to be the most exotic ones to ever appear on the Eccles stage, according to Wendi Hassan, the artistic director of the CacheARTS facility.
“Funny as it seems,” she explains, “we had a ton of animal acts here back in the vaudeville days (of the early 20th Century).”
The theatre’s official history not only makes mention of fairly typical dog, pony and monkey shows, but also more unusual trained rosters, a singing duck, a performing bull and even a talented elephant.
Meerdo added that the anniversary show will also publicize a GoFundMe campaign that Zootah has launched to benefit its caracals.
Caracals are medium-size nocturnal wildcats native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India.
Zootah received two caracals recently from a zoo in Oregon.
“We hoping to receive enough donations from the GoFundMe campaign to build a larger and warmer habitat for the caracals,” Meerdo adds.
The anniversary show, entitled “Past, Present and Future: A Journey through 50 Years of Logan’s Hometown Zoo,” will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Hassan explains that the Random Acts shows are low-key events featuring local artists that are intended to lure Cache Valley’s performing arts community back to the Eccles Theatre during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Events in the Random Acts Community Performance Series will be an hour or less with no intermission to reduce the chance of mingling in the theatre’s aisles and lobby.
Seating will be limited to approximately 100 ticket groups within the 1100-seat Ellen Eccles Theatre to ensure social distancing.
A separate entrance that by-passes the theater’s lobby will be available for attendees who feel the need to take special precautions to avoid public groups.
The wearing of facemasks is mandatory at these performances.
The Random Acts Community Performance Series is supported by the Wasatch-Logan Arts Foundation, the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau, the Cache Chamber of Commerce and the Logan Downtown Alliance.