Hello, Portlanders. Elephant Lands at the Oregon Zoo is now officially open to the public. The new area for the elephants is about four times the size of their former habitat. Elephant Lands now accounts for almost 10% of the zoo’s 64-acre footprint. A cool feature Portlanders will love is the new bridge that overlooks the six-acre Elephant Lands. The panoramic view is awesome.
During the two and a half years it took to build Elephant Lands, the project was developed in phases to keep the herd comfortable. The Encounter Habitat opened in February of last year, followed by the North Habitat in April of this year. New indoor facilities, which is among the largest in the world, opened to elephants in May earlier this year, and the recently opened South Habitat completes the project and brings all the areas together.
The total budget for the project was $57 million. In addition to Elephant Lands itself, the project included construction of a service access road, rerouting of the zoo train loop and relocation of the zoo’s Wildlife Live headquarters. Completed on schedule and on budget, Elephant Lands is the fourth of eight major projects made possible by the community-supported 2008 zoo bond measure promoting animal welfare and sustainability.
In addition to funding from residents of the Metro region, private donors stepped in to contribute additional funds through the Oregon Zoo Foundation’s Campaign for Elephants. Gifts to the campaign totaled $5.3 million in support of educational interpretives, technology and features to enhance the habitat, as well as ongoing efforts to inspire the community to care about the natural world.