If you’re a regular visitor to the zoo, you might’ve noticed we’ve been doing some building work in the Dinosaur Safari over the past few weeks.
Our newly opened Nawala Street Food Kiosk will soon be the gateway to Project Elephant. Walking past the Woolly Mammoth, you’ll be faced with two options; climb a gentle slope and follow an elevated walkway straight into our new Elephant house, or keep going until you find a tree lined clearing leading you out to ground level viewing of the spacious paddock.
We’re going to start our journey in the paddock…
As you emerge from a prehistoric land you’ll be greeted with an uninterrupted view over the 9,600 square metre paddock that will soon become the playground for a herd of Asian elephants.
Separated by a ha-ha moat (a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond) you’ll be face to face with our herd of elephants, who could be standing just metres away from you.
As you can see, the paddock has been landscaped with mounds and will soon be covered in grass with a sand “yard” at the far end.
From here, you can climb the stairs to join the main elevated walkway, which will take you down the left of the paddock all the way up and into the upstairs area of the house.
Arriving in the house, you’ll have a spacious 5 metre wide walkway from which to observe our elephants and if you’re lucky, their keepers down below. The viewing platform overlooks the main indoor living area for our elephants, which has been planted with logs (which are now growing their leaves back!) and will eventually see a 1.2 metre deep layer of sand cover the floor. To the rear of the house you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of some of the other areas, which have been designed to allow keepers to integrate or separate the animals as is needed. This area features a weighbridge, separate and reinforced areas fit to house a bull elephant and a keepers’ service area and kitchen.
Through the middle of the house is a suspended gantry which will give our dedicated team of elephant keepers’ access to their floating office, hydraulic gate controls, lighting controls and plenty of mechanisms for suspending browse and feed for the elephants below.
The gantry leads out to a spectacular balcony overlooking the paddock – from which you can see the outdoor bull area to the left and the pool to the right. From here, keepers will have control of a high-powered water cannon – perfect for filling the pool, watering the grass and showering the herd with recycled rainwater to provide enrichment and a much needed shower in the drier months.
Everything is on track with the build and we’ll soon see sand starting to arrive and the elevated walkway being constructed.