Your Sneak Peek Inside Fort Worth Zoo’s New Elephant Wonderland — This is No Ordinary Habitat
T.The Fort Worth Zoo’s $ 100 million capital campaign and construction project, A Wilder Vision, debuted three years ago in April 2018 with the opening of its 10-acre African savannah in the first phase of its four-part transformation enhancement project. Now the zoo is opening its newest habitat, Elephant Springs, which includes several lush green spaces and various watering holes for Asian elephants and larger rhinos to roam.
The zoo celebrates its grand opening today (Thursday, April 15) with the official ribbon cutting, but the invited zoo members got a special first look on Tuesday and Wednesday – and so did PaperCity Fort Worth. Elephant Springs offers new spaces, renovated living spaces, merchandise locations, toilets, and most importantly, new ways to observe, interact with, and get to know these majestic animals.
The main pool holds 400,000 gallons of water. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
“We are excited about these amazing new habitats, and I have to thank the Fort Worth citizens who continue to support the zoo so generously,” said Ramona Bass, chair of the Fort Worth Zoological Association’s board of directors. “Without them, none of this would be possible.”
Far beyond a simple renovation, this new elephant habitat almost triples the size of the zoo’s old habitat. It will be home to the zoo’s remarkable Asian elephant herd, which has been a family for three generations. It’s all about the comfort, the care and above all the breeding of the herd, as well as the improved visibility for the more than one million visitors who enjoy the zoo and participate in its educational programs every year.
The playful pachyderms were introduced to their new space this week. “You seem to feel right at home so far, going to sleep, swimming, and being completely immersed in the main pool,” Avery Elander, PR manager for Fort Worth Zoo, told PaperCity Fort Worth.
“We have seven members of the Asian elephant herd, four women and three men, and two of them are considered teenagers. The habitat offers continuous enrichment opportunities so that they can mix and mingle and move around as a herd, just as they would in the wild. “
There is even a shaded demonstration area with seating that will be activated shortly so that visitors can watch the zookeepers and elephants doing regular “training exercises”. The exercises provide visitors with prime visibility, close-up zookeepers to inspect the elephants from trunk to tail, and stimulatory / relational activities for the animals themselves.
The elephant’s old habitat was only six feet – now it’s five. The primary pool consists of 400,000 gallons of refreshing bliss for the herd, with colorful plantings and naturalistic ledges, four waterfalls, additional water features, and even water cannons that kids can use to interact directly with the elephants. You can spray them with streams of water that the elephants enjoy.
A main pool with two smaller wading pools surrounds the fishing village at Fort Worth Zoo’s newest attraction. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
“Guests have to walk through an authentic floating fishing village with water flowing under it,” says Elander. “This is the next path a visitor has ever made to these animals.”
Many of the hand-painted elements that adorn Elephant Springs were created by zoo staff along with Fort Worth wall painter Kristen Soble, who was previously tapped to liven up other rooms in the zoo.
“We’re excited to introduce guests to some of the most unique creatures in the world here at the Fort Worth Zoo,” said Michael Fouraker, the zoo’s executive director. “While these animals have been living in the zoo for some time, guests can get closer to these animals and get involved in ways they have never been able to do before.
“Elephant Springs will also shed light on the fighting many of these animals face in the wild.”
Authentic accents by local wall painter Kristen Soble. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Larger rhinos now share a fence with the elephants even though they are separated by a river. Extensive spaces for this endangered species, which appear to be clad in armor, allow the zoo to continue its breeding and conservation program. Elephant Springs will also bring home messages of conservation and environmental protection.
In fact, what goes on behind the scenes is just as important to Ramona Bass and Michael Fouraker as the tangible improvements are to the animals. The zoo’s ongoing conservation mission is always a priority.
Mayor Betsy Price and Ramona Bass celebrate the opening of Elephant Springs.
A primer for Fort Worth Zoo Elephant Springs
Fort Worth’s Zoo’s Asian elephant herd will now enjoy:
– Fifteen individual stalls to give the animals their own spaces, although many of the stalls are interconnected and can open up into a larger space.
– An air-conditioned environment with constantly moving exhaust fans that continuously circulate the air. Heating elements are also available if required.
– The sandy floors offer the herd additional comfort and will create an ideal nursery room for calves in the future.
– Several neighboring farms are accessible if the animals venture outside overnight.
– A prep kitchen, pantry and hayloft on the second floor provide easy access to store food for the herd.
– Indoor and outdoor exercise rooms where zookeepers can get close-ups and, in some cases, practical examinations of the animals. In this room, the pet owners also examine, clean and cut the animals’ feet and nails. Yes, the elephants receive pedicures weekly,
– The barn has built-in floor scales so the keepers can be sure that the animals are in a healthy weight range.
– A state-of-the-art water filtration system that allows all water features to be cleaned and reused.
Shady viewing at Elephant Springs. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
“We want people to make these connections and be inspired to learn more about protecting their colleagues in the wild,” says Elander.
The Fort Worth Zoo is home to more than 7,000 animals, some of which are critically endangered. Behind all of the fun and interactivity that Fort Worth Zoo offers is a mission to educate the next generation to preserve the ecosystems and species that depend on us for their survival.
“As the nation’s # 1 zoo, we are confident that the changes and improvements that are taking place here will further enhance our profile as the best zoo in the country and an international leader in animal care and conservation,” said Fort Worth Zoo- President Ardon Moore says in a statement.
Elephant Springs was built in such a way that the zoo could develop its leadership role in conversation and ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures for generations to come.
Next, the Fort Worth Zoo treats hunters with Africa and Asian predators (including lions, tigers, hyenas, African wild dogs, cloudy leopards, cheetahs, zebras, and several exotic bird species) is already underway and is expected to debut in 2023. This is followed by the final episode of A Wilder Vision, entitled Forests & Jungles, which will bring a redesigned canopy habitat to life for the endangered tree monkeys. That should be opened in 2025.
The Fort Worth Zoo continues to grow – and now its elephants have plenty of room to roam. You have never seen an elephant country like this before. Click through the photo gallery below for an even closer look: