Elephant Eden to open next year

WORK has begun on creating Europe’s largest elephant sanctuary.

The 20-acre, �1.2million facility will be built at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall, and will open to the public next summer.

Construction started on September 7 and once complete, it is hoped the sanctuary will offer a better home to elephants already in captivity which may suffer behavioural problems in their current homes, rescue animals or elephants from a collection with a lack of space.

Key features include a heated elephant house which will be four times larger than recommended standards and will have deep sand yards for good foot health.

The 20-acre outdoor environment will include woodland, mud wallows and crops for strip grazing. A deep outdoor pool for up to three elephants to use at one time should give skin care benefits, exercise and mental stimulation.

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Zoo owner Anthony Bush believes the sanctuary will be a significant step forward in the care of elephants in captivity.

He said: “Elephant Eden will be a new chapter in the history of elephant accommodation - and is the result of extensive thought and planning.

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“Elephants are the largest land mammals, and we want to create a destination of paradise for these important creatures.”

Alan Roocroft, international elephant expert and consultant to more than 40 zoo collections, has advised Noah’s Ark on its plans and believes the development will represent a high standard of welfare.

More information on which elephants will join the new sanctuary will be released in the next six months as plans are finalised.

Noah’s Ark is also considering allowing a film crew access to document the creation of the elephant sanctuary and the arrival of the animals next year.

Elephant Eden has been part-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development 2007-2013, the zoo is also carrying out its own fundraising and financial gifts have been given by the public.

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