Breeding hopes as new elephant attraction taking shape

Blackpool Zoo's biggest ever attraction is edging closer to completion and bosses are excited that the resort could become a breeding centre for one of the world's most iconic endangered species.

Monday, 10th July 2017, 2:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st August 2017, 3:34 pm
Adam Kenyon on the site of the new elephant house

The new £5m Project Elephant is taking shape on a one unused plot. And with construction work on both the paddock and main building nearing completion the scale of the scheme is becoming clear.

Senior Large Mammal Keeper, Adam Kenyon, said: “From starting it on a piece of paper to where it is now is incredible.

“When you start off with it in your head you have a vision of what it looks like.

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“When it comes to fruition it looks better.

“That’s certainly the case in terms of the views the public will have.”

The zoo is hoping to establish a breeding programme and is now completing the necessary paperwork before a new herd can be brought to the Fylde coast.

And Adam explained the importance of bringing an already established group.

He said: “We try to keep animals in their maternal herds as much as possible.

“You might get a split in the wild. We will look for a natural split in the group.

“Historically elephants were moved on one female here, one female there.

“The bonds are so tight we now bring them as a group. So it’s two sisters or a mother and a daughter.

“For us to create a breeding group there is a family there, right from the beginning.”

Blackpool’s current Asian Elephant Kate is also expected to make the new enclosure her home. And keepers are getting ready for her move.

Adam said:“Kate isn’t ready just yet. We’ve got the transport crate to bring her over in her padock.

“It’s just a case of getting her used to it. There is no rush. It’s very much on her terms as to when.

“I get asked by other staff members when it’s going to happen and we can’t give answers.”

The new house, due to open later this year, will ensure elephants are a feature at the zoo for decades to come. That would not have been the case without the investment.

Adam said: “We went to our parent company and said we have to have a new facility or move out of elephants all together.

“As much as those involved in the decision would not have liked to have seen elephants go the bottom line is their welfare.

“If we couldn’t advance and build a better facility and cater for their needs we had to do that.”