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Milwaukee County Zoo's new Elephant Exhibit to open May 4

Updated: 2:35 p.m. April 11, 2019

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee County Zoo has released more information on the grand reveal of the new Elephant Exhibit that opens Saturday, May 4.

At 10 a.m. the zoo will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony. A pair of elephant ears will be given to each visitor who enters Adventure Africe that day. 

10 tons of sand will also be designed to create an elaborate elephant sculpture. A giant animal mural will also be on display and visitors can color a square on the mural. 

There will be a question and answer session with Zookeepers from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and the Zoo's Marketplace will sell elephant cookies made just for the day. 

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Posted: 3:46 p.m. April 5, 2019

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee County Zoo has announced that the new Elephant Exhibit will officially open on Saturday, May 4 with a "grand reveal" starting at 10 a.m. The new exhibit will transform a quarter of the Zoo's current layout.

The new 20,000 square foot Elephant Care Center features a recreation room with both sand and padded floors, five individual stalls for training and husbandry (allowing the elephants to participate in their own healthcare) and expansive space for enrichment activities. Indoor enrichment items include hay-filled barrels that zookeepers are able to hang from the ceiling which allows the elephants to exercise their trunk muscles, reaching up to these high-hanging devices.

The outdoor habitat which is four times the size of the current Elephant Exhibit features a watering hole able to accommodate three fully-submerged elephants, feeding and enrichment walls, shade structures and even a self-activating shower. A demonstration pavilion with shaded visitor seating allows an up-close look at how keepers work with the elephants to offer the highest level of care through daily training and interactions.

Along with the new Elephant Exhibit the Zoo is debuting two new mixed species exhibits. The first will feature bongo and yellow-back duiker and the second will feature zebra, impala, and African crowned cranes. 

The Elephant Exhibit can accommodate up to five elephants including bull elephants. The Zoo is keeping its current elephants Ruth and Brittany and looking for options to bring new elephants in.

The $16.6 million Elephant Exhibit was half funded by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and the remaining was funded by Milwaukee County.

“I’m thrilled for the residents of Milwaukee County to share and enjoy this very significant addition to the Zoo,” comments Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “The renovations were necessary, not only for the elephants but for the staff’s ability to offer the highest level of care.  The new exhibit also keeps pace with the quality of animal exhibits at other Midwest zoos.”

With the new improvements, the closest zoo with accreditation to exhibit elephants is the Indianapolis Zoo.

With the completion of the Elephant Exhibit, the Zoo is now focused on changes to the existing Hippo and Rhino Exhibits which are expected to open in 2020 to 2023.

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