Whipsnade Zoo's custom-designed Centre for Elephant Care is home to a herd of Asian elephants.
About the Centre for Elephant Care
Highlighting Whipsnade Zoo’s elephant-expertise, the £2m Centre for Elephant Care is home to our herd of Asian elephants and provides the perfect complement to their seven grass paddocks.
The Centre for Elephant Care, which was given the royal seal of approval in April 2017 by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, was designed by award-winning architects and uses our keepers' expertise to ensure that we are leading the way in elephant care. It has a host of elephant-friendly features:
- More space than ever, with more than 700m² of additional indoor space.
- A one-metre deep soft sand floor for maximum comfort for the elephants to walk on. There are also sand mounds for them to play with, or lie against as elephants like to sleep on a slight gradient.
- Dimming lights mimic the transition between natural daylight and night-time conditions.
- Timed feeding pods have been installed, which will release food to the herd at intervals to allow them to graze as and when they wish.
- Six large reclaimed oak trees are set into the floor of the Centre to provide scratching posts for the herd as well as for the keepers to hang treats, or puzzle feeders as enrichment.
What can I expect to see in the Centre for Elephant Care?
The Centre for Elephant Care highlights our commitment to providing the best home for our Asian elephant herd, but visitors to the new Centre will also benefit from its new features:
- Try your hand at giving an elephant pedicure on a replica foot and also examine the species’ physiology by studying the results of an elephant skull x-ray and an ultrasound of a pregnant female.
- Watch the herd from a balconied viewing platform as they socialise together and also get a unique insight into the daily attention lavished on the pachyderms by their zookeepers.
- A large electronic board displays the live infrasonic vocalisations (very low frequency sounds that are below the threshold of human hearing) being made by the elephants so visitors will be able to see how the herd communicate with each other.
- Information displays highlight the research conducted by ZSL’s vets and the lengths the keepers go to care for the elephants.
- Listen out for our elephant talks, led by the Zoo’s team of presenters, about Asian elephants’ fascinating biology and behaviour, as well as the amazing conservation work carried out by ZSL to protect the species in the wild.
ZSL's conservation work with Asian elephants
Asian elephants are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and due to habitat loss, human conflict and poaching, their wild populations are in decline.
The species are also listed on ZSL's EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) list, meaning there is a particularly urgent need for conservation action.
Habitat destruction and fragmentation is one of the main threats to elephants in Thailand, a major stronghold for Asian elephants. Remaining forests are under intensive pressure due to human activities. Unfortunately, this increasingly brings animals living in these forests into contact and conflict with people living nearby, for example when elephants destroy people's crops.
As part of our global conservation efforts, ZSL is currently working in Thailand to reduce human-wildlife conflict and ensure the peaceful coexistence of elephants and humans.
We are working closely with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) in Thailand to monitor, mitigate and initiate community outreach activities that address conflict between humans and elephants.
We're using new technologies and training members of local communities to collect information to help us understand the causes of crop-raiding and to develop ways to minimise conflict.