Elephant Lands Wins Top Honors at Association of Zoos and Aquariums

September 12, 2017

Elephant Lands at the Oregon Zoo was awarded Top Honors for Exhibits by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Elephant Lands was the most ambitious project in Oregon Zoo history. It is four times the size of the zoo’s former elephant habitat, accounting for nearly one-tenth of the zoo’s total 64-acre footprint. A bridge leading visitors to the new Forest Hall indoor area offers a sweeping, panoramic view of the entire project: six acres, extending around much of the zoo’s eastern side from the central lawn to the veterinary medical center.

Engineered to promote animal welfare and herd socialization, Elephant Lands features large, connecting outdoor habitats linked to flexible and communal indoor spaces. From the project’s inception, the emphasis was on activity and choice.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its Asian elephant program, which has spanned more than 60 years. Considered highly endangered in their range countries, Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans and disease. It is estimated that just 40,000 to 50,000 elephants remain in fragmented populations from India to Borneo. The zoo supports a broad range of efforts to help wild elephants, and has established a $1 million endowment fund supporting Asian elephant conservation.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums — a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and recreation — is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and seven other countries. In 1974, the Oregon Zoo became just the second zoo in the country to earn accreditation from the AZA, which currently accredits fewer than 200 zoos nationwide.