Elephant Eden update at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
7th November 2013
The £2 million state-of-the-art Elephant Eden, the largest elephant habitat in Northern Europe, is ready and waiting for our new elephants to move in and they are almost ready to travel to us. Keepers at the elephants’ current park and at Noah’s Ark are looking to book in the move date for their arrival before Christmas. Our keepers have been working with the elephants for the past five months, preparing them for the move using pioneering Protected Contact (PC) training; a reward-based system.
Protected Contact is a positive training method in which the keepers do not go in with the elephants (unlike the historically favoured Free Contact system used in other zoos) but work with them through a training wall. This humane, safe and enjoyable training means the elephants only take part if they choose to. As such, giving the elephants time to get used to their specially-constructed transport crate means we’ve had to delay their arrival until we can be sure they are comfortable.
Each elephant will be transported separately using the same special PC crate which weighs 10.5 tonnes and was built specifically for Noah’s Ark for this purpose. We’re only the second zoo in Europe to carry out a PC move. Chester Zoo was the first and this took some 18 months. In other cases elephants are either sedated or winched into their crates to be moved which is much more stressful for the animals (although necessary outside of a PC training programme). Keepers will continue to use PC for the duration of our elephant programme at Noah’s Ark. Welfare has been and continues to be the main focus of this project, reflected in the necessary delay in moving the elephants that we’ve had to accommodate.
UPDATE May 2018
Shaka the 26 year old African bull Elephant recently arrived at the zoo to join Janu (12 years old) and M'Changa (9 years old). Shaka is settling in well and will slowly be introduced to the boys to enjoy the 20 acre enclosure.
For more information or to book tickets, please visit the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm website or call 01275 852606.