Imagine watching majestic Asian elephants care for their young, greater one-horned rhinos cooling off in a shallow stream, acrobatic gibbons swinging overhead from tree to tree, fishing cats diving for their next meal and the piercing stare of a clouded leopard, all from the center of an Asian village. And then imagine that you are right here in Denver! Toyota Elephant Passage will be the new home for some of the zoo’s most beloved animals in addition to a number of important new species. Occupying 10-acres on the southern edge of the zoo, Toyota Elephant Passage’s expansive complex will allow visitors to explore and discover the rich history of animals in Asian culture, their complicated relationship with humans and the efforts of Denver Zoo and its colleagues to protect their future.
The magnificence of Asian elephants, Indian rhinos and many other Asian species will motivate Denver Zoo visitors to understand and help save fragile ecosystems and the animals that rely on them. With nearly 2 million visitors each year, Denver Zoo's elephants and other animals will make a major impact on educating the public about the global efforts to save these endangered species.
Leadership in Animal Care
Denver Zoo is at the forefront of animal care, management and conservation. Toyota Elephant Passage will provide seven times the space of the current Pachyderm exhibit, creating one of the largest elephant habitats in North America. Asian elephants, Indian rhinos and Malayan tapirs will rotate among five unique habitats that will provide abundant space and varied terrain. This extra space will allow Denver Zoo to house a significant number of bull elephants and eventually become a breeding facility for elephants, rhinos and tapirs. New habitats will include exciting “upgrades” such as mud wallows, scratching trees, shade structures and plenty of water for swimming and bathing.
To support a national effort to create a sustainable Asian elephant breeding program, Toyota Elephant Passage will be the first facility in the country able to house a significant group of bull elephants. In the long-term, Toyota Elephant Passage will allow Denver Zoo to become an Asian elephant breeding center.
As you walk through the Preserve, you will gain an understanding of how people manage animals in natural, protected habitats and you will be introduced to the overall exhibit theme of human/animal conflicts and relationships. Habitats in the Preserve will be seamless with no visible barriers between you and the animals. In fact, as you walk along the Preserve boardwalk to view elephants, rhinos and tapirs, you will see gibbons swinging directly overhead as they move between three island habitats.
An Schoelzel Family Village will serve as the exhibit hub, providing you with opportunities to understand and appreciate the diverse array of Asian animals and their complex relationships with human populations. You will learn about innovative projects where local people and conservationists have partnered to create unique, practical solutions to conservation problems and challenges.
As you walk into the Outpost, you will enter a rural village struggling to co-exist with elephants. The damaged huts and crops will convey a profound message about the damage that elephants can do to local residents' livelihoods. Through the actual stories of Denver Zoo conservation/biology research staff who work with elephants and native peoples in Sumatra, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, you will learn about the strategies being used in Asia to promote and ensure coexistence between human and animal populations.