DALLAS, May 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Dallas Zoo today announced that it is the first zoo in North America to combine African elephants with zebras, giraffes, impalas, ostriches and guinea fowl in the same habitat, where these majestic animals can explore the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat side by side, just as they would in the wild.
The Dallas Zoo's innovative exhibit is a key player in Dallas' recent advancement as a world-class cultural destination, attracting visitors to Dallas along with the Dallas Arts District – the largest arts district in the nation (spanning 68 acres and 19 contiguous blocks), the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
The Giants of the Savanna habitat was built, in part, in response to national attention the Dallas Zoo received in 2009 regarding Jenny, an African elephant that has been in the Dallas Zoo's care since 1986. Today, Jenny, along with fellow African elephants Mama, Gypsy, Kamba, and Congo, live in the Giants of the Savanna habitat and like all elephants, are naturally social, intelligent animals with strong personalities. They're older, female elephants, but very active. That's why the Zoo started calling them their "Golden Girls."
"The Giants of the Savanna continues to be a game changer for the Dallas Zoo," said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of Dallas Zoo Management Inc. "It is two decades of vision, a dream of what could be, finally becoming reality. Today, the Dallas Zoo is recognized as an innovator and a national and international leader in elephant care. We have zoos and elephant experts from all over the world coming here, asking us how we are doing it . . . telling us they plan to do exactly as we have done. We are extremely pleased with Giants of the Savanna, how we navigated the journey it took to get here and the great team we have in place. Most of all, we're proud of how this habitat has provided a caring, comfortable and stimulating environment for our elephants, our Golden Girls."
"The Giants of the Savanna is a mentally and physically stimulating habitat for the animals," said Lynn Kramer, DVM, vice president of animal operations and welfare for Dallas Zoo Management Inc. "The design is based on field research. In the wild, elephants, giraffes, zebras, impalas all move around a lot because they are looking for food, water, and companionship. We created an activity-based, multi-species habitat with the same incentives to encourage them to travel throughout the entire space. The elephants are the largest – so the other animals move around the Savanna based on where the elephants choose to go. The Giants of the Savanna habitat, with over four acres open to the elephants, gives the animals room to roam. We're observing how they use their space and how an active lifestyle impacts their health and then we share that information with our fellow zoos and researchers studying elephants in the wild."
"What the animal experts here at the Giants of the Savanna are doing is bringing different kinds of animals together in one habitat as these animals would live on the savanna in Africa," said Michael L. Meadows, president and chief executive officer of the Dallas Zoological Society. "But the addition of elephants has never been done before here in the U.S. and that makes the Dallas Zoo a must-see, destination zoo. Our peers from other zoos in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are coming to the Dallas Zoo and calling us a leader . . . With the Giants of the Savanna continuing to thrive and evolve, we truly believe the Dallas Zoo is poised to become one of the best zoological parks in the country. Our donors say they are excited to be associated with one of the premier elephant care leaders in the country and to help the outstanding veterinarians, scientists and keepers here take advantage of unprecedented opportunities to learn about and from these animals."
"The new elephant facility at the Dallas Zoo may represent the future of elephant habitats in zoos in North America," said Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, conservationist, television personality and author. "Over the last 30 years, I've had the opportunity to travel the world to learn about many awe-inspiring creatures. I've been blessed to see animals in the wild, but I know many people will not have that opportunity. The good news is that if you can get to Dallas, you can see elephants, giraffes, and zebras all living together - just as you would on safari in Africa!"
SOURCE Dallas Zoo