With only one month to spare before the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s African elephant herd grows by one more with the birth of a calf expected in January — for a total of 17 elephants — the elephant habitat has nearly doubled in size to 5.5 acres, the zoo said in a statement released with this photo.
Photo taken December 7, 2010, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Enlarge the photo by clicking on it.
Said the Zoo:
“The Safari Park’s six adult female elephants and eight youngsters, ranging in age from 7 months to 6 years old, moved as a unit while exploring the new area on Tuesday. Although most of the adults kept close together to protect the herd, the calves enjoyed playing in a pile of soft dirt, rolling in hay and pulling up grass bunches.
“The exhibit expansion provides a second pool for swimming, another barn to warm up in during the winter months, if needed, and additional enrichment items to keep the elephants mentally and physically fit. The new space was vacated in 2009 by four Asian elephants that found a new home at the San Diego Zoo’s Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey, a 7.5-acre exhibit housing more than 30 species of animals including lions and California condors.
“After months of planning and fund-raising, hydraulic gates were built to connect the two yards to create one large habitat for the herd that has doubled its size since the adults were rescued in 2003 from the Kingdom of Swaziland. There, they faced being killed because elephant overpopulation was destroying habitat.”
The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as Wild Animal Park) is operated by the not-for-profit San Diego Zoo and includes a 900-acre native species reserve. The Zoo also manages the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.