Monday, May 14, 2012

Denver Zoo's New 10 Million Dollar "Toyota Elephant Passage"

Groucho, a 41-year-old Asian elephant, hardly seemed to mind as a crowd squealed with excitement as he ate his breakfast.
Several hundred people were lined up for a sneak preview of the Denver Zoo's new 10-acre Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit Saturday morning. When the gates opened shortly after 9:30 a.m., families strolled into the new exhibit with excited steps and wobbly trots aimed directly at the Clayton F. Freiheit Elephant House.
Inside, visitors were welcomed by Bohdi, an 8-year-old bull elephant who delighted one little girl when he tugged at a hanging rubber ball with his long trunk.
"Look! The real elephant is playing," she screamed.
Seven local Toyota dealerships, which sponsored the new exhibit, were
each given 1,000 tickets to distribute for Saturday's preview. The exhibit will open to the general public June 1, but zoo visitors are urged to reserve spots to enter the exhibit ahead of time.In addition to Groucho and Bohdi, visitors still can visit Mimi and Dolly, two female elephants who have lived at the zoo for more than 20 years.
Last summer, the two were trained to walk in and out of a crate that eventually transported them from the old half acre exhibit to their new home.
All four elephants have been adapting to their new home for months, said Craig Piper, president of the zoo. Training all of the animals in the exhibit to move through the more than 2 miles of trails and swim in the 1.1 million gallons of water that fill the ponds, is an ongoing process.
"You're watching the birth of an exhibit," Piper said. "It's a step at a time. The animals are doing what they want when they are ready for it, and it's great to get to share that with the community."
Piper looked on in excitement as one of the two northern white-cheeked gibbons, a small ape, swung her way down a vine and onto an island for treats. Some of the other animals featured in the new exhibit include great one-horned rhinoceros, Asian small-clawed otters and flying fox bats.
"There is no zoo exhibit like this anywhere in the world," Piper said.
The Howe family was one of the first to enter the exhibit.
Paul, 2, watched in excitement as Groucho stuffed hay into his mouth with his trunk.
"It's great for the zoo and great for the community," Ryan Howe said. "It's a major upgrade for the zoo."

The Circus "NO SPIN ZONE": Denver Zoo Elephant's

'It's too bad Clayton Freiheit is not here to see this day......'

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