The Smithsonian’s National Zoo opened “Phase I of Elephant Trails” on Friday. This exiting new exhibit for the Zoo’s Asian elephants aims to go a long way to ensure this species doesn’t become extinct.
There are four new elements for zoogoers to experience:
1) A new elephant barn: You can see it from the outside. But inside the elephants can privately socialize and become a herd. It’s like the elephant club house. Bonds will form and perhaps a family-like atmosphere will emerge.
2) Two new elephant outdoor yards. Cool pools and sandpiles for the elephants to play in should make for tantalizing views of elephants as they are in the wild.
3) An elephant exercise trek. The trail runs uphill for a great work-out and winds through a naturally forested area of the National Zoo.
4) An elephant outpost. Here visitors can participate in interactive educational exhibits and talk to keepers and scientists about the elephants. Classes, lectures and films by experts will keep information about how everyone can participate in saving this species.
Humans moving into natural environments have decreased the wild population of Asian elephants by 70 percent. This first phase of elephant trails will push forward the National Zoo’s breeding program, education and scientific research.