Honolulu Zoo Gets A Big Addition

The Honolulu Zoo has unveiled its new Elephant enclosure which cost about $12 million to build. The plan has been in the works for roughly two decades, and construction of the new exhibit didn’t begin until 2006.Mari and Vaigai are the two Indian elephants that call the Honolulu zoo home; they were given to the Honolulu zoo by the Children of India for the Children of Hawaii. The zoo has plans to obtain more elephants, specifically a male, so that Mari and Vaigai will have a mate. Hopefully, the new enclosure will one day be the home to baby elephants as well. The new exhibit was unveiled on Monday, and the zoo’s two Indian elephants were happily in their new homes, with painted faces and bells to celebrate. Manuel Mollinedo, Honolulu Zoo director, reported to KITV that “We’re seeing behavior we weren’t seeing in the other exhibit”. For years the zoo has been criticized about the size of its elephant enclosure, and since 2006 the zoo has been working on this new expanded habitat. The new enclosure is on about 1.5 acres of land, which is nine times bigger than the old enclosure the elephants were squeezed into. Mari and Vaigai have already been observed enjoying their new home and playing, and the two 50,000 gallon swimming pools that were included in the new home will be a great place for them to enjoy cooling off from the hot Hawaiian sun!The new elephant habitat is a part of many improvements the Honolulu Zoo has been doing over the past couple of months to gain re-accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and since March of this year, when the Association of Zoos and Aquariums tabled the Honolulu Zoo’s re-accreditation, the zoo has been making improvements such as repairing and upgrading animal exhibits, adding directional signage and educational graphics, and trying to fill vacant personnel positions. Mollinedo said “I feel confident that, with the continued support of the City and County of Honolulu and a stronger financial commitment by the Honolulu Zoological Society, the zoo can address all of the issues noted and can continue to operate as an accredited member of the AZA”

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