The new African Savanna exhibit opened at Zoo Atlanta last week as part of the first phase of the zoo’s “transformation.”
The signature attraction is a new African elephant habitat that more than triples the size of the former habitat. The habitat includes three new water features, two waterfalls and a pond, and a “feeder enrichment activity wall.”
“We are thrilled to be able to introduce an experience that will reset the anticipation of what the people of Atlanta and Georgia can expect from their zoo. Many people will never get the chance to take a trip across the world to Africa, but the opening of the African Savanna brings that opportunity here to all of us,” Raymond B. King, president and CEO, said in a statement. “If people don’t feel connected to these animals and to their ecosystems, they have little reason to want to save them. We want our visitors to walk away inspired and empowered by an experience that shows just how interconnected we are with the natural world.”
Female African elephants Kelly and Tara, residents of Zoo Atlanta since 1986, moved to their new environment in June. Msholo, an adult male African elephant from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, arrived at Zoo Atlanta in July.
Zebras Hannah and Shinda were introduced to their habitat in July. A release from the zoo said giraffes Abu, Etana and Isooba and ostriches Orange and Purple are acclimating to their habitats and may not be visible for several days.
Once all three species are comfortable in their new surroundings, the animals will be re-introduced to one another so that they may share the habitat in a mixed-species setting. A statement from the zoo said the new habitat is flatter, with more usable space.
Warthog Eleanor and her daughter Shirley have their own new habitat. Blaze, a meerkat currently at Zoo Atlanta, will share an exhibit with new meerkats, known as a mob, across from the savanna and will be visible soon.
The African Savanna completes the first phase of the zoo’s three-part Grand New View project, the result of a capital campaign launched in 2014 that raised more than $50 million for the project. Future elements will include Savanna Hall, an event destination that will overlook the new African Savanna from the historic former Cyclorama building, and a new grand entry plaza.
Both Savanna Hall and the grand entry plaza will open in early 2020.