The biggest residents at the UK’s largest Zoo are set to move into a brand new home this Easter, with the unveiling of a brand new £2m Centre for Elephant Care at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
The Zoo’s nine-strong herd of Asian elephants will be packing their trunks and moving into their new home this April; a luxurious new barn set amidst 20-acres of rolling paddocks.
With ZSL Whipsnade Zoo leading the way in elephant care, the new centre provides more than 700m² of indoor space for the elephant herd, including eight-month-old calf Elizabeth.
Visitors to the Centre for Elephant Care will be able to witness from a balconied viewing platform the strong bond among the herd as they socialise together and also get a unique insight into the daily attention lavished on the pampered pachyderms by their zookeepers.
Custom-designed by award-winning architects, the Centre for Elephant Care will comprise a host of elephant-friendly features such as one-metre deep soft sand flooring to provide maximum comfort and dimming lights to mimic night-time conditions.
Other exciting details include timed feeding pods, which release food regularly during the night and six giant oak trees for the elephants to use as scratching posts.
The Centre for Elephant Care will provide the perfect complement to the herd’s seven grass paddocks, plus the picturesque Chiltern Downs the elephants enjoy exploring during their daily 2.5-mile walk around the 600-acre zoo.
The whole family can also attend several intriguing talks to learn about Asian elephants’ fascinating biology and behaviour, as well as the amazing conservation work carried out by ZSL (Zoological Society of London) to protect the species in the wild.
Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) are classified as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, and due to habitat loss, human conflict and poaching their wild populations are in decline.
The charismatic mammals are also listed on ZSL’s EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) list, meaning the species is in particularly urgent need of conservation action.
Charity ZSL runs more than 50 conservation programmes worldwide, and is working in Thailand, a major stronghold for Asian elephants, to reduce human-wildlife conflict and ensure the peaceful coexistence of elephants and humans.