Like Polar Bears, Elephants have been a hot topic for zoos in the recent past. Animal activists have started coming to the forefront, making alliances and friends of folks in power. In extreme cases, like the city of Chicago, pending legislation prohibits elephants to be kept in captivity, unless the institution meets unrealistic standards. In the case of Chicago, the new city ordinance would require 10 acres per elephant, of which, 5 acres are indoor. These requirements are intended to drive zoos and circuses out of the elephant business. As misguided as this ordinance seems (although I do agree with opposition to circuses), strong public support makes this type of legislation feasible, not only in local municipalities, but could, some day, reach national levels.
To help avoid the critical eye of animal activists such as Save the Wild Elephants, whose aim is strategically placed on zoos across the country, North Carolina Zoo recently opened an expansion to their already massive mixed species African plains exhibit, now called "Watani Grassland Reserve."
In addition to the added space, the exhibit incorporates art and graphics as a means of learning throughout. The exhibit added up close views of elephant pools, and the experience is intended to be passive and exploratory, with thousands of feet of meandering trails. Vistas across open grassy plains are the norm here, and visitors are easily immersed in the idea of being on safari.
I'm curious if this massive exhibit would meet the Chicago legislation, as this exhibit is surely the largest and most responsible habitat out there. Watch news video.
- 44 acres
- $8.5 million
- 7 African Elephant (ability to hold 2-3 bulls)
- 9 White Rhino
- Antelope species
- 13,000 sf Indoor Elephant only Facility ($2.5 million)
Congratulations to all involved!!