This exhibit provides a stimulating, updated environment for the elephants and rhinoceros by enhancing and increasing the habitats, activities, and surrounding areas. This creates the opportunity for more natural behaviors, which give the animals physical and mental stimulation.
Guests will have wonderful views of the world’s largest and second-largest land mammals at rest and at play. Catch a daily training demonstration where keepers show how they work with and check the elephants’ health and conditioning through positive reinforcement. The exhibit also provides a safe working environment for the animal care staff.
Elephant Encounter features four outdoor habitats as well as the African Lodge. Guests first encounter a naturalistic habitat on the east end of the exhibit that features a swimming channel, deep with enough room for an elephant to completely submerge and swim from one end to another.
Constructed of wood and thatch materials, which overlooks the Working Yard, the African lodge helps bring an emotional connection between guests and the elephants and rhinos. From the African Lodge guests can see the Working Yard where animal husbandry procedures are done, allowing the public a chance to see the care elephants have in a zoo setting.
Walking further down, guests can get a nose-to-nose view of the elephants and rhinos in the West Habitat. When you enter The Kopje (co-pea), which resembles the small hills that rise from the African veld, you can observe the animals through the safety of two-inch thick specially made windows. A feeding area and watering hole are near the Kopje to attract the animals over for a better view.
A smaller lodge on the edge of the West Habitat gives guests another vantage point to see the animals, as well as additional educational activities. Several guests can pile on the “Elephant Scale” and see if they collectively weigh as much as a baby elephant, a newborn rhino, or as much as an elephant can eat in a week.
Families will have a great photo opportunity when they stand next to the 13-foot tall elephant sculpture that greets them as they enter Elephant Encounter. This work of art looks like a soapstone carving of an elephant. Around the sculpture are special elephant footprints.
In addition, guests can learn how high an elephant can reach, how elephants like water, or about the reproduction cycle of an elephant.