Children and adults alike could hardly contain their excitement earlier today at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo where officials had a surprise…
“I see it! I see it! I see it!” a little boy exclaimed when baby Asian elephant Ajay emerged into the yard, accompanied by his mother Mali and grandmother Targa.
It was the first public introduction of Ajay, and the five month-old, 700 pound pachyderm showed no hesitation as he made his way into the yard. Dozens of visitors had a birdseye view from the new $2.2 million walkway and overlook that’s been years in the making. Zoo director Ted Fox says it’ll be one of the best elephant exhibits in the country in size and complexity.
“We put elements in that don’t exist anywhere else, like the walk-through tunnel, the topography, and the grass seed mix. There are very few places in the country where you can see elephants grazing on natural grass, and that’s exactly what they get to do here.”
Fox says it’s just the latest in a series of improvements to the elephant preserve, from the barn to the pool. He says the Syracuse zoo is one of only a handful that’s committed to elephant preservation.
“There are only 30 zoos in the country that have Asian elephants. Only 11 have breeding families, and we’re one of those 11. The numbers are still shrinking. This is exactly what we always intended to do is to make it better all the time as we understand the needs of the elephants.”
Renovations aren’t quite complete. When it’s done, the preserve will grow from 4.5 acres to nearly 7 for the herd of 8 elephants.