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Houston Zoo Opens Expanded Elephant Habitat


An elephant exhibit sets great zoos apart from the ordinary.  That is why the Houston zoo is proud to announce the latest improvement to the McNair Asian Elephant Habitat.
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The end result of two years of planning and construction, the latest addition represents a six-fold expansion of the Habitat since the opening of the 7, 000 square foot elephant barn and improved viewing areas in June 2008.  The new addition adds 1.5 acres to the elephant’s outside habitats.
The new addition creates a naturalistic habitat, enhancing the living space for the Zoo’s 7 elephants, streamlining the animal care process, and providing a world-class experience for Zoo guests.
“The Houston Zoo has created an environment for our elephants that addresses both their physiological and psychological needs, “said Houston Zoo Director Rick Barongi. “The landscaping of trees, natural grasses and varied terrain creates a wonderful environment for the elephants and the open design and viewing areas provide an enhanced guest experience as well, ” added Barongi.
The latest expansion incorporates an 80, 000 gallon capacity ‘elephant sized’ swimming pool and a state-of-the-art water filtration system.  The pool is terraced and currently is not filled to capacity to allow our young calves, Baylor and Tupelo to become accustomed gradually to swimming in deep water.
The new addition to the Habitat also includes a shaded 200-seat demonstration area allowing the Houston Zoo’s elephant care team to provide more personalized enrichment activities for the Zoo’s elephants while engaging Zoo guests with important conservation messages about the endangered status of elephants in the wild.
The elements of the Habitat are designed to encourage the elephant’s natural behaviors, such as foraging, browsing, rolling, bathing, and dust bathing. The exhibit elephants also enhance the hierarchal interactions within the family groups.

About the Houston Zoo

Founded in 1922, the Houston Zoo is an exciting live animal adventure that provides a unique educational and conservation resource serving more than 1.8 million guests annually.  Set in a 55-acre lush tropical landscape, the Zoo is home to more than 6, 000 exotic animals representing more than 800 species.  Visitors can experience the wonders of Africa at The African Forest, the new 6.5 acre, $40 million addition featuring chimps, rhinos, and giraffes.  Travel to Africa.  No Passport Required.

Operated by the not-for-profit Houston Zoo, Inc., the Houston Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species, the provision of engaging educational opportunities and the creation of stimulating exhibits that broaden the experiences of our guests and encourage their curiosity.
The Houston Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things.  With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.  For more information visit

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