Monday, May 25, 2009
Crowds turned out over the weekend for the opening of the San Diego Zoo’s new elephant exhibit. KPBS reporter Katie Orr was there and spoke with some visitors.
SAN DIEGO Crowds turned out over the weekend for the opening of the San Diego Zoo’s new elephant exhibit. KPBS reporter Katie Orr was there and spoke with some visitors.
Just an hour after it opened people were already lining the fences of the Elephant Odyssey exhibit watching the massive animals explore their new home. The exhibit cover 7 ½ acres and contains more than 35 different kinds of animals. But the stars are the pachyderms. They can wander up and down rolling hills or take a dip in a pool. Zoo visitor Kathy Anderson says the new exhibit is much better than the elephants’ old enclosure.
“I think it’s wonderful. I think it was worth waiting 20 months for, it was 20 months I think. And I think the gestation of an elephant is 22 month, I think. So it was worth the wait,” she says.
The exhibit also features an elephant care center where visitors can watch keepers take care of the animals. The Zoo’s Rick Schwartz says helping people feel connected to the animals is an important feature of Elephant Odyssey.
“We have seen survey and conducted surveys ourselves that say when people have an opportunity to get up close and personal with an animal they’re more apt to go home and do something different,” he says. “And that’s really our goal. Not only do we want to educate people and let them have a lot of fun while they’re learning. But we’d like to see people become more involved with conservation.”
Schwartz says this exhibit is unique and says he hopes other zoos follow San Diego’s example.
Katie Orr, KPBS News