Building work on the largest elephant sanctuary in Europe is now starting in Bristol with the 20 acre Elephant Eden at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm scheduled for completion in 2013.
Elephant Eden will be a paradise for elephants who are already in captivity but need to be rehomed, and could provide refuge for elephants with behavioural issues or ailments.
The project was given the blessing of former MP Ann Widdecombe who was at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm last year to dig the first earth at the site of Elephant Eden.
Yet a project of this magnitude requires a great deal of funding and clearance, two factors which have now come together for Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. Construction on this unique home for elephants started on September 7 and it has all the luxuries of a hotel – a variety of eateries, plush bedrooms and an outdoor swimming pool.
Here are some of the amazing features specially targeted at soothing the minds and bodies of the elephants:
• Deep sand yards to promote good foot health.
• Woodland and mud wallows to keep them active and entertained.
• A heated elephant house which is four times larger than what is recommended by EAZA zoo standards.
• A variety of food stations at varying heights to cater to the elephants’ every appetite, and encourage natural foraging and social behaviours.
• A deep outdoor bathing pool for up to three elephants to use at once, giving skin-care benefits, exercise and mental stimulation.
• Elephant training via the Protective Contact method which uses positive reinforcement of good behaviour.
Zoo owner Anthony Bush said: “Elephant Eden will be a new chapter in the history of elephant accommodation – and is the result of extensive thought and planning. Elephants are the largest land mammals, and we want to create a destination of paradise for these important creatures.”
International elephant expert Alan Roocroft, who is a consultant to over 40 zoo collections globally, has advised Noah’s Ark through every step of the process.
He said: “I believe you have a very good foundation for keeping elephants correctly at Noah’s Ark following the recommendations from myself that we discussed during my visit.
“Letting the world know now that you are designing, planning and ultimately building an elephant sanctuary where elephants will have space and habitat, will represent a high standard of welfare”.
More information on which elephants will join the new sanctuary will be released by the zoo during the next 6 months as plans are finalised. Sustainability is a key feature of the whole enclosure.
Elephant Eden has been part-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development 2007-2013: ‘Europe investing in rural areas’ and supported by fundraising which the zoo is continuing with this winter. Financial gifts have been made by visitors and members of the public, including £1000 donations made in memory of loved ones for the zoo’s ‘Wall of Celebration & Memory’ scheme.
The zoo is currently considering proposals being made for access to film the development of Elephant Eden as a television documentary, exploring the zoo’s unique story and the arrival of elephants next year.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is open Monday – Saturday 10:30am – 5:00pm and can be found just outside Bristol, minutes from the M5 motorway. The zoo is closed on Sundays.
For more information about Elephant Eden, entry costs to the zoo and events at Noah’s Ark, visit our zoo website or phone 01275 852606.