Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts

Check out some of the features of our new elephant habitat that make it one of the top elephant habitats in the country!

picture of elephant exhibit

The Pachyderm Pad: Welcome to the Elephant Barn!

 The new facility features 15,600 luxurious square feet with eight separate stalls allowing for different configuration opportunities (sleeping, medical procedures, etc) and a large community stall with a sand surface.

  • Enrichment Alert: The keepers will sometimes bury fruit or vegetables in the sand for enrichment, simulating the natural foraging behavior of the elephants!

 

Toasty toes! The concrete floors in the barn feature a radiant heating system that warms the surface to keep the girls warm in the colder weather. A forced-air heating system helps maintain the barn’s temperature.

Hefty hydraulics! The barn features a state-of-the-art hydraulic system to control the shift doors between the stalls. The doors are controlled by three touch screen computer systems placed around the barn and one remote for optimum ease! These enhance comfort and safety for the animals and staff.

  • Enrichment Alert: You might catch the girls grabbing a snack from a hanging hay bag! These feeders simulate eating greens off of a tree (a natural behavior) and also help to strengthen the neck muscles. They have to work a little harder to get their food, so it’s great enrichment!

 

Fresh air friendly!  Eight mesh-covered overhead doors can be opened up to allow for air circulation and cross ventilation. Two swamp coolers on the roof help cool the barn during hot days.

Room with a view! The keeper office is raised to the ceiling of the barn, centrally located and offering a 360 degree view of the interior. Windows and skylights provide ambient lighting.

 

The Pachyderm Playgrounds: Check Out the Elephant Yards!

Splish splash! Elephants love to swim and play in the water, so each of the three yards features a pool for splashing!  In the herd yard, the biggest pool of all: 12 feet deep and 214,000 gallons of water! Two entrances to the pool, one a ramp and one a set of stairs, provide easy access to the water. A waterfall and stream for splashing lead to the pool, which has a filtration system in place to recycle the water and clear dirt and debris off the surface. The bull yard has an 8 foot deep, 30,000 gallon pool and the center yard has a 2 foot deep, 4,500 gallon pool. Great for cooling down on hot days!

  • Enrichment Alert: Recognize those large logs in the yard? Many of the original trees that were removed during construction were re-purposed as “tree furniture” for the elephants. These logs are anchored down and provide great “toys” and scratching posts for the girls!

 

Keeping it cool! The shade structures in the yards are made from sustainably harvested pine from forests in east Texas – each tree was hand-selected specifically for the project! They will provide cooling shade for the elephants during warm days. Each structure is approximately 30 feet tall and has been designed to look like a shade structure in a Thai village.

The center yard boasts a retractable shade cloth that can extend approximately 40 feet out from the side of the barn for additional shade – the elephant pavilion has one as well!

Also look for the Nelson waterers! These silver, can-like waterers keep an automatic fresh water supply circling through the can so the elephants always have cool, clean water to drink.

 

Pachyderm Playhouse: Baby Proofing for a New Arrival!

Stepping lightly! The steps leading down into the pool in the herd yard were specifically designed to accommodate elephants both big and small! The stairs angle downward at a slant, reducing the size of the drop between steps and offering easy access for an elephant calf. The pool also features the ability to raise a cable safety fence around it (excluding the entrances) to keep the baby safe.

Tiny tot! Inside the elephant barn, Keepers will attach ½ inch steel cable to the exterior of the elephant stalls at low heights to make sure the calf stays in its designated areas. 

return of the elephants logo



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The Zoo is a fully accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Association of Museums (AAM) as both a living museum and a botanical garden. AZA accredited facilities are dedicated to providing excellent care for their plants and animals, a great experience for guests and a better future for all living things.

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