FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 11, 2013
Contact: Frank Donze
Audubon Zoo Elephants Moving
to New State-of-the-Art Barn
Change of Address Effective Monday, October 21, 2013
(New Orleans, La.) – Next week, Audubon Zoo’s two female Asian elephants, Panya and Jean, will trade their 1930s-era Asian Domain enclosure that faces the Cooper Plaza fountain for a spacious, new, state-of-the-art holding facility featuring the same Works Progress Administration (WPA)-style architecture of the iconic, existing barn along with several high-tech innovations.
The move – part of a larger redesign of the Zoo’s Asian Domain– means the two pachyderms temporarily will be largely out of public sight until late next summer, when a new 42,000-square-foot elephant exhibit is scheduled to open to the public.
The elephants’ new accommodations will be contoured, with gentle inclines, shade trees, two elephant pools and an “enrichment tree,’’ a replica of a fallen tree trunk which will allow the elephants to forage for food, including fruit and pumpkins.
The new elephant barn features heated, padded floors. Notably, the building is designed to house four elephants. Audubon Zoo officials plan to acquire at least one more elephant sometime in the near future to join Panya, who will celebrate her 50th birthday in 2014, and Jean, who is 41. The two elephants have been fixtures at the zoo for 30-plus years. Jean arrived in 1978 and Panya came to Audubon two years later.
The existing elephant barn debuted to considerable fanfare in the late 1930s in what was then known as the Merz Memorial Zoo. A long line of elephants have been greeting Zoo visitors from virtually the same spot for nearly 75 years.
Relocating the elephant exhibit is the first step in a reimagining of the Asian Domain and the surrounding area. Nearby, the addition of a “lazy river’’ water attraction to the popular Cool Zoo splash park is under way. The new attraction, officially known as “Gator Run,’’ is scheduled to open in spring 2014. Construction on the elephant exhibit is slated for completion in August 2014.
The existing elephant barn and exhibit will be renovated to house the Zoo’s orangutan collection. The exhibit will get a new roof, new play structures and will be retrofitted with night housing for orangutans. Moving the orangutan exhibit from the World of Primates to the Asian Domain is designed to enhance the geographic approach to the Audubon Zoo animal collection. Orangutans are an Asian species.
The Asian Domain recently welcomed a renovated leopard exhibit next to the existing elephant barn.
The last day that guests can visit Panya and Jean before the big move is Sunday, October 20, 2013.