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Eden for elephants. 10 years of pioneering welfare innovation at the UK’s largest elephant habitat.

21st February 2024

The UK’s largest elephant habitat marked its 10-year anniversary on Tuesday 20th February, a celebration of innovation in elephant care. Since its inception in 2014, Elephant Eden has been a cornerstone of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’s commitment to animal welfare, conservation, and education, managed with a continuing commitment to improving the health of zoo elephants from across Europe.

Officially opened by HRH Princess Anne a decade ago, this world leading elephant facility covers an area of 20 acres with a wide range of state-of-the-art features including a pool, large heated indoor barn with sand yards and water sprinklers, expansive fields and a large willow plantation – Elephant Eden was designed to provide a natural and spacious environment for elephants to foster their physical and mental well-being. Elephant Eden is home to three African elephants, Shaka, Janu, and Sutton.

The facility provides a much-needed support for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for African elephants, offering an extensive environment for individual males to live and integrate into a multi-generational group where they can learn from each other and exhibit natural behaviours. Habitats like Elephant Eden are crucial to the successful and healthy management of African elephants as a part of the wider zoo community, in recognition of the differing social and spatial needs of male and females.

Tom Lindley, Elephant Section Leader at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, reflected on the journey of Elephant Eden, stating, “Over the past decade, Elephant Eden has developed to become vital habitat for elephants. Our focus on creating a place which mirrors their natural environment has been instrumental in promoting the welfare of our elephant group. We are proud to operate as a multi-generational bachelor group, centred around one dominant male and younger bulls. Caring for the largest land mammal on Earth is a remarkable opportunity, and we are looking forward to continuing our mission of providing a home for bull elephants over the next 10 years and beyond.”

Chris Wilkinson, Curator at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, highlighted the zoo’s desire to be constantly evolving and improving their facilities stating, “Elephants are brilliant animals and housing them in modern collections allows us to conserve the species whilst educating the public and advancing the scientific knowledge of elephant biology, physiology, and behaviour. Elephant Eden is a 20-acre habitat that has been carefully designed with environmental features to maximise species-specific behaviours, to positively challenge the elephants and to help with their management.

By providing a naturalistic habitat and facilitating behavioural enrichment, we contribute to the well-being and conservation of these magnificent creatures.”
As Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm marks, the 10-year milestone of Elephant Eden, the zoo reaffirms its commitment to conservation, education, and animal welfare. Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm became a conservation charity in 2023 and has ambitious plans to develop its impact, both locally and internationally through partnerships and conservation efforts.

Larry Bush, Director of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, says, “We are incredibly proud to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Elephant Eden. This milestone is a testament to our dedication to providing the highest standards of care for our elephants and we’re delighted that during the past decade nearly 2 million visitors have had the opportunity to see elephants and to be inspired to support the care and conservation of these amazing animals. As we look to the future, Eden is an ongoing example of our commitment to be pioneering in our approach to animal welfare, education and conservation efforts. We’re excited to translate its success into other areas of our work and to bring benefits for wildlife, people and our planet.”

Andrew Hall, Communications and Public Affairs Manager at BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums), commented, “Elephant Eden provides incredible world-leading elephant care. The habitat is pioneering by design, as one of the few bachelor facilities for African elephants, and Noah’s Ark have a dedicated team of experts committed to the round the clock care of Shaka, Janu and Sutton. I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years have in store for this outstanding home for endangered African elephants.”

As Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm looks ambitiously towards the future, the zoo remains steadfast in its mission to inspire the next generation of conservationists.

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