If you've been to the zoo, you know that there are tons of really great habitats...Gorilla Tropics...Polar Bear Plunge...Monkey Trails...but there were areas that felt old and outdated, and Elephant Mesa was a pretty sad sight, especially when you could see the elephant herds at the Wild Animal Park with so much space. So the Zoological Society did something about it, and upwards of $45 million dollars later, Elephant Odyssey is now open for all to see. Click 'keep on reading' for full post and photos.
First, apologies for the size of these photos, but I'm bailing town shortly and don't have time to fix them. Anyhow, I got to the media party around 4ish, which was probably too early because as with any massive event, there were last minute details that needed to be worked out. Natalie met up with me shortly thereafter and we waited in the media room for a while before we knew where and what we were supposed to do. At one point a woman gave Nats a swag bag and I made sad eyes and she ended up giving me one, too. I am a blogger and I want a bag with a stuffed woolly mammoth, too!
Anyhow, in all the chaos, we stepped outside for a bit and noticed this little guy just chilling and he was too cute not to shoot.
As you know, there are tons of wild animals that call the zoo home. We caught a couple bunnies running around, and then this guy screamed a bit to make himself known. I love the peacocks that roam around the zoo, and this was the first time I saw one that was left alone. For some reason I always seem to see them being chased by small children which is so. not. cool. Leave the peacocks alone. This one was pretty vocal, but nothing like at the end of the night when they really get their scream on.
We decided to take the Skyfari to Hoof Mesa. It's such a cool view, unfortunately I was in the midst of a crisis and spent the whole trip texting to make sure the minor issue was handled. And it was. All was good, and we were off the skyfari. We passed the unlucky hoofed animals that didn't get a new habitat, but they didn't seem to notice.
Elephant Odyssey is huge. This is the sign that greets you on the south entrance.
The cool thing about Elephant Odyssey is that it's not just about the elephants, but about our region and animals that lived here in the Pleistocene Age. As you walk in to the Odyssey, you go through the fossil portal that is a recreation of one of the La Brea tar pits.
Throughout the exhibit, there are these ginormous statues of Pleistocene creatures, adjacent to their modern age descendants. Thanks to Ice Age, I will forever hear John Languizamo's voice anytime I see a sloth, especially the statue adjacent this little guy.
These are two of the elephants that came from the Wild Animal Park. The tusks were cut intentionally because in the wild, they normally break or wear down due to foraging and fighting. Obviously that doesn't happen in such a cush environment, so they trimmed them for the safety of the zoo elephants. I hear the herd is meshing well, though it seemed they were still segregated for now.
The trainers were giving tons of snacks to the elephants so that they would show off their behaviors and it seemed they were all about it. I don't know if you can really tell if an elephant is happy, but it felt like they were. There's this kind of air of calm about the exhibit that you have to experience for yourself. Maybe that's just the zoo in general. Nothing really matters when you're among animals.
So while we were hanging out, enjoying tasty tray passed hors d'ouevres and cocktails, the zoo's animal ambassadors were out in full force. I got to scratch an owl, and there were hawks, parrots, turtles, and this little crocodile.
The exhibit allows for a very up close experience with the elephants. there's about a 8 foot sidewalk between the railing and where the elephants are standing in this pool.
Can I say anything here except "I Like Turtles"?
This is Rick Schwatz, the Elephant Odyssey Ambassador. When he chatted with Nats and I in the media room, he said, "So, I hear you're our representative bloggers?" and it felt nice to have this medium acknowledged. He blogs for the zoo here.
This is Mark Steines from Entertainment Tonight. He hosted the ribbon cutting and was given some adopted elephants in Botswana for his participation. "I guess we don't have to get a dog now," he told his kids.
These are capybaras, the largest rodents in the world. Cute in an exhibit, probably not so cute if you found one in your garage.
Along with the elephants, there are several other animal enclosures. The cat enclosure wasn't finished which bummed me out because I love the jaguar and leopard of the zoo, but there were plenty of others to check out.
This was on the far side of the enclosure. The trainer can stand on this platform. This guy was hunting for alfalfa nuggets.
One really cool feature is the husbandry area. There are cages for the elephants (Wait...insert Cage The Elephant music here...) and there's a walking platform above, where people can view the trainers and vets when they take care of the animals. Pretty damn cool. We didn't actually walk the platform however because the bathroom was calling.
Cool but weird cat lady server.
The bathrooms had Dyson airblade hand dryers. AWESOME.
And the cat lady's counterpart...the lion man.
Mark did a cake cutting. Yes, that elephant is a cake.
Actually, both elephants were cakes. So tasty, too.
Anyway, that concluded our evening at the zoo. I cannot wait until Summer nights so I can spend more time among the creatures of the zoo. Thanks again to Nats.
I can't wait to come and see Elephant Odyssey. The pictures were really cool. it will be really neat when the cat exhibit is done. Thanks for the informative blogging.
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