It’s been a mammoth task – but Saturday finally sees the opening of Blackpool Zoo’s new elephant house to the public.
Project Elephant Base Camp gives visitors chance to observe a herd of three elephants – soon to be five – either from an indoor high-level viewing platform, or outdoors at eye-level.
An Asian-style habitat has been created for the animals which will eventually be part of a new breeding programme.
Blackpool Zoo director Darren Webster said: “The new facility is the result of years of planning and hard work by our keepers and elephant experts from across the UK and beyond.
“Our brand new concept in animal care, Project Elephant, will open visitors’ eyes to the future of zoos and in-situ conservation programmes working together to preserve our most iconic species.”
Resident elephant Kate has been joined by Tara and Minbu from Twycross Zoo.
They emerged from their living quarters one-by-one to the delight of their first visitors. Head zoo keeper Adam Kenyon said all three elephants were getting on well.
He said: “They have a mutual respect for each other.
“We have seen a change in Kate in that she is wanting to spend more time, on her own terms, with the other elephants and so far it has gone extremely well.”
The first visitors, including students from Blackpool Sixth Form College, were impressed with the new facility.
Laura Baldwin, 18, said: “The elephants look content and it’s a definite improvement on the old elephant house.”