Hogle Zoo and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have agreed to a negotiated settlement in a civil complaint filed last July against the zoo.

In the complaint, signed Thursday afternoon by an administrative law judge in Washington, D.C., the zoo does not admit to any of the 11 alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.But zoo officials also agreed to the assessment of a $25,000 civil penalty, with $12,500 of that immediately due to the federal government. The remaining $12,500 is to be placed in a "zoo fund" for additional training of zoo employees and facility improvements and repairs.

Under the agreement, the zoo has agreed to use the latter fund within one year and to submit a monthly report documenting use of the money to USDA's western sector animal-care office in Sacramento, Calif.

The settlement, which followed a long string of problems facing the zoo, was reached by attorneys representing the zoo and USDA. The settlement was approved Monday by the Utah Zoological Society Board of Trustees and by the administrative law judge, said zoo spokesman Andrew B. Wallace.

James E. Hogle Jr., president and chairman of the Utah Zoological Society Board, and Susan C. Golabek, attorney for the government, were among five signers of the document.

"The agreement specifically indicates the zoo does not admit it violated any section of the Animal Welfare Act. We have, and will continue, to abide by the Animal Welfare Act that regulates the care of our animals. As for the payment to the government, (the trustees) agreed to the settlement for economic reasons. In order for the zoo to continue to fight the complaint, the cost of litigation would have far outweighed the cost of the forfeiture. We would rather see that money going for continued improvements of the zoo," said Hogle in a press release issued late Thursday afternoon by the zoo.

In announcing the settlement, zoo officials said USDA will take "no further action" against the zoo.

Hogle added, "The process has served an important purpose in demonstrating the critical need the zoo has for funding. Even the USDA acknowledged our need by the establishment of the zoo fund to help us upgrade the facilities and the continued training for our keepers."

In the agreement with federal officials, the zoo agreed to not violate the Animal Welfare Act. Specific requirements of the act include proper maintenance and cleanliness of buildings, feeding and care of animals and adequate space for animals in enclosures and staff training.

Wallace said zoo Director LaMar Farnsworth is out of town on vacation but was aware of and had concurred in the agreement made with federal officials.

USDA's filing of the complaint in July charged that the zoo violated federal animal protection law. The allegations ranged from claims that the zoo had dirty facilities and broken fences, to charges that it caused the deaths of Raleigh the giraffe and two gazelles.

In the press release issued Thursday, zoo officials said specific projects the zoo has now completed include the resurfacing of giraffe flooring (in August) and completion (also in August) of construction of concrete footing under the zoo's perimeter fence. Officials have said they hope that will keep predators out of the zoo. Also, they said the zoo completed renovation in July of two exhibits in the Feline Building.

Renovation of two more feline exhibits is now under way, as is the remodeling of the sea lion exhibit into an area that will be known as Penguin Rookery. The zoo also recently commissioned an architectural rendering of its central area that details the construction of a River Otter and Nature Walk exhibits and renovation of the Monkey Island exhibit.